Tribune reports double-digit Q4 revenue drop


Tribune BroadcastingTribune closed out 2013, its first full year since emerging from bankruptcy, with a double-digit revenue decline during Q4. Q4 revenue was $773 million, down 11% from the previous year. FY revenue was $2.9 billion, a nearly 8% decline from 2012.  The company cited lower ad revenue and one less week in the fiscal year as contributing to the decline.

“Broadcasting revenue trends during the first three quarters were disappointing,” Peter Liguori, president and CEO of Tribune, said in a statement. “However, in the fourth quarter, non-political core advertising revenue stabilized year over year. Our root challenges are definable and addressable and we have taken action.”

Tribune Co. remained profitable in 2013, with cost-saving measures such as staff reductions helping to mitigate revenue declines. Operating profit was $349 million, down 12%, reported Tribune O&O The Chicago Tribune.

For the year, Tribune reported a net income of $241.6 million, or $2.42 per share.

Broadcast revenue fell by more than 11% to about $1 billion in 2013. Advertising revenue was down 7% to $810 million, with lower baseball revenues at WGN-TV, a cyclical drop in political advertising and lower ratings at WGN America contributing to the decline.

Retransmission fees remained a bright spot for broadcasting, increasing 22% to $103 million, with higher rates for the company’s TV stations offsetting lower carriage fees for WGN America.

The 12/27/13 acquisition of Local TV for $2.73 billion added 19 television stations to Tribune portfolio, but nothing to last year’s bottom line. The financial statements include $4 million in revenue and $4 million in expense for the new stations.

Broadcasting operating profit was down 47% to $196 million for the year.

Tribune’s publishing business fared relatively better last year, with operating revenues declining by 6% to about $1.89 billion. Ad revenue fell by 9%, while circulation revenue increased by 1%, boosted by higher sales of digital subscriptions.

“In the Publishing business, our operational actions have stabilized profitability and we are confident that we are building a solid foundation for this business’s future,” Liguori said.

See the full Chicago Tribune story here