Q3 revenues were down for the reorganized Tribune Company, but so were expenses, resulting in increases in operating profit and EBITDA. Television lost money, but Trib’s assignation of blame was a little different than that offered by most other TV companies.
Consolidated revenue fell 5% to $695M; and broadcast revenue fell 6% to $248M. Tribune said that a $9M decrease in advertising revenue could be laid at the doorstep of its radio/TV combo in Chicago and at television stations in Washington and New York. And while no mention was made of losses due to the political off year, Tribune did say that results were negatively impacted by poor seasons for MLB’s Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox.
Television declines were partially mitigated by increased income from retransmission consent.
Publishing revenues decreased at a slightly slower rate, dropping 4% to $446M.
Varying degrees of change are in store for both aspects of the business. On the broadcasting side, WGN has been put on notice that the Cubs are likely not renewing their contract; also, the company is working on closing its $2.725 acquisition of the Local TV group.
Consolidated expenses fell 7% to $626M.
Consolidated operating profit improved from $56M to $69M, and EBITDA improved from $99M to $118M.
Tribune Company President and Chief Executive Officer Peter Liguori stated, “While we are pleased with the progress we have made on key strategic initiatives in the third quarter, our financial results in the period did not meet our expectations. We are taking targeted actions to position our broadcasting stations for profitable growth and look forward to consummating the pending acquisition of Local TV. Our publishing business has continued to perform well despite ROP revenue declining. Importantly, we are developing compelling original programming content, improving the capabilities of our digital assets, expanding our efforts to increase non-ROP revenue and increasing the profitability and cash flows of our equity investments and real estate portfolio.”