Tribune is reviewing operations in an effort that will likely result in staff reductions at the company’s daily newspapers. The company announced in July that it planned to separate its newspapers from the company’s other assets. The new owners of Tribune intend to focus on the more profitable television and Internet properties and spin off its eight daily newspapers into a stand-alone company.
A Tribune spokesman told The LA Times (owned by Trib) that the company has started a budget review process. Newspaper managers have been asked to look for efficiencies.
“We’re in the process, as we are every year at this time, of looking at the budgets for all of our businesses,” Tribune spokesman Gary Weitman said. “Everything is on the table. We’re looking at how to put our publishing businesses on the best possible footing for the long term.”
Late Thursday, Chicago business blogger Robert Feder reported that Tribune Chief Executive Peter Liguori had told managers to identify $100 million in cuts to take effect 12/1.
Said Feder: “To help achieve the $100 million cuts, the company has retained Empirical Media, the New York-based consulting firm co-founded and headed by Jack Griffin, former CEO of Time Inc.”
Weitman told The LA Times the report was not accurate. “No targets for expense reduction have been issued.”
He also said the company had not arrived at a number of job cuts. Late last month, Tribune reported that earnings tumbled in Q2 as revenue dropped sharply in its TV broadcast division and advertising continued to decline at its newspapers.
The Chicago company emerged from four years of bankruptcy protection in late December. Liguori, a former Discovery Communications and Fox executive, was hired as CEO in January.
In July, Tribune announced that it was acquiring 19 television stations in a $2.7-billion deal. Soon afterward, the company said it would spin off The LA Times, Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun and other papers into a separate entity known as Tribune Publishing Co. Until that time, Tribune had been taking steps to sell the newspapers.
In the last three years, the company has slashed about 2,200 jobs. Tribune currently employs about 11,500 workers.