newspapers on the auction block, Tribune Co. is ordering its publishing division to slash their budgets by $100 million, according to Chicago media watcher Robert Feder, who first reported the news.
The move is probably intended to make the publications more attractive to potential buyers.
Tribune CEO Peter Liguori issued the order during a meeting with the heads of the company’s
publishing units on Wednesday, per Feder, citing sources familiar with the plan. The cuts will hit all parts of the publishing division, including newsrooms, and are scheduled to take effect beginning
Tribune has hired consulting firm Empirical Media to help identify areas where cuts can be made.
Although it’s still unclear where cuts will fall, they will
likely involve yet another round of layoffs for Tribune employees. In July, Tribune said it would be cutting staff at the struggling Los Angeles Times
, affecting at least 20 employees,
including editorial staff.
Tribune first revealed plans to divest its newspapers -- including the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times
and Baltimore Sun
-- in December 2012.
In February, the company retained Evercore Partners and JPMorgan Chase to oversee the auction. These moves are part of a larger strategy repositioning the company as a mostly broadcast operation,
including the purchase of 19 TV stations from Local TV Holdings in July of this year.
The decision to dump publishing and focus on TV follows Tribune’s harrowing four-year-long
bankruptcy, during which various groups of creditors fought for control of the beleaguered company while several waves of managers struggled to present a viable plan for reorganization.
Revenues continue to decline. In the second quarter of 2013, total revenues fell 10.5% to $730 million, with newspaper ad revenues sinking 7% to $262 million.