Downward: Trib Records Weak 4Q, 2007

Tribune Company has spent just a few months under new management, but continues to offer weak financial results.

Its television division is still suffering--down some 9% to $297 million in revenues for the fourth quarter. Lower political, movie, and retail advertising were to blame. Television's operating profit offered a worse picture--off 26% to $79 million versus a year ago.

Tribune did point out that one of its major TV outlets, WPIX-TV New York, grew in revenues. But this didn't stop the overall downward revenue trend in other markets.

Publishing businesses were in a worse state--down 13% to $952 million for the quarter. Operating profit sank 99% to $3 million, from $226 million in 2006.

Overall, Tribune Company took a loss from continuing operations of $78 million in the fourth quarter. All this versus a profit from the same period a year ago of some $233 million.

For the 2007 year, Tribune reported income of $55 million--down a big 92% versus the $661 million income gain in 2006. Operating revenues were off 12%, or $180 million, to $1.27 billion. For the full year, operating revenues for broadcasting and entertainment sank 2% to $1.40 billion--down from $1.43 billion in 2006. Publishing operating revenues moved lower at a faster pace--decreasing 9%, or $354 million, to $3.66 billion.



New Tribune ownership, from real-estate investor Sam Zell, who completed the acquisition of the company in late 2007, said plans are in the works to resurrect the company. "Despite the continued difficult operating environment and weakness in print revenue, we see significant opportunity within Tribune Company," said Zell, chairman/CEO, in a statement. "In our first 75 days, we've made a series of key leadership changes, have launched a number of programs and projects to drive new revenue, and have initiated a fundamental shift in culture."

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