Thursday, February 7, 2008

Corporate Chicago's `Tribune/Los Angeles Times' Company--Part 1

(Portions of the following article appeared in the April 13, 1994 issue of the now-defunct Lower East Side alternative newsweekly, Downtown).

“The Newspaper Guild of New York which represents most writers, editors and technicians at WPIX, Channel 11, has filed a petition with the Federal Communications Commission to deny the station’s request for the renewal of its license…

“The union has also said Channel 11’s coverage of public affairs, required by law, has fallen off in New Jersey…”
(The New York Times on 5/4/89)

“Available to 18.7 percent of United States households the Tribune Stations—including WPIX in New York, WGN in Chicago and KTLA in Los Angeles—have a reach even wider than that of Fox and one that is exceeded only by the three big commercial networks…

“Despite its $2.45 billion in sales last year—a revenue figure that makes the company larger than other media groups like Knight-Ridder, McGraw-Hill, Washington Post, Dow Jones and The New York Times—Tribune has managed to keep a generally low profile at least until the
Daily News was struck…” (The New York Times on Nov. 12, 1990)

“Television stations in Houston and San Diego were acquired in 1996, followed in 1997 by Tribune’s largest television acquisition ever -- Renaissance Communications for $1.1 billion. Six stations joined the Tribune group, including KDAF-TV in Dallas and WBZL-TV in Miami.

“…The merger with The Times Mirror Company, completed in June 2000, effectively doubled the size of Tribune and secured its position among the top tier of major media companies. The $8.3 billion transaction was the largest acquisition in newspaper industry history.

“The Times Mirror merger added seven daily newspapers to the Tribune fold, headlined by the Los Angeles Times, Newsday, The Baltimore Sun and the Hartford Courant. Tribune was now the only media company with newspapers and television stations in the top three markets…

“On April 2, 2007, Chicago-based investor Sam Zell announced plans to buy out the media company for $34.00 a share, totaling $8.2 billion. Zell's intentions were to turn the company private. The deal was approved by 97% of the Company's shareholders on August 21, 2007. Privatization of the Tribune Company occurred on December 20, 2007 with termination of trading in Tribune stock at the close of the market….”

Tribune/Times-Mirror’s TV Connections

The Chicago-based media conglomerate that has backed 2008 Democratic Party Presidential candidate Barack Obama throughout his political career, Tribune/Times-Mirror, today controls 23 television stations in the United States. During the 1990s, in addition to controlling an “independent” New York City TV station (WPIX-Channel 11), the Tribune-Times Mirror media conglomerate also controlled “independent” TV stations in Philadelphia, Chicago, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Denver, New Orleans and Boston. The Tribune Company’s eight “independent” TV stations in the early 1990s made it the seventh-largest TV broadcasting group operation in the United States in 1994. Around 20 percent of all U.S. homes could be tuned into an “independent” local TV station that was owned by the Chicago-based Tribune media conglomerate in 1994.

The Tribune Company also operated a 24-hour Chicago area pay-TV cable news programming service for over 600,000 subscribers in 1994. And its Tribune entertainment subsidiary produced the tabloid-TV “Geraldo” show for over 144 stations around the U.S. in 1994. Eight years before its 2000 merger with the Times-Mirror media conglomerate, Chicago’s Tribune Company took in about $477 million in gross earnings from its TV broadcasting operations alone.

Tribune-Times-Mirror’s Radio Connections

In addition to owning WPIX-TV/Channel 11 in New York City, the Tribune-Times-Mirror media conglomerate owned radio stations in the U.S. during the early 1990s, including WQCD in New York City. In the Denver area, the Tribune Company owned two radio stations, in addition to owning its Denver, Colorado TV station in 1994. Both a radio station and a TV station were also owned in Chicago by the Tribune Company in 1994. And in Sacramento, California in 1994, the Tribune Company also owned another two radio stations. About 33 percent of the Tribune Company media conglomerate’s gross profits in 1994 came from its radio and TV broadcasting/entertainment division.

(Downtown 4/13/94)

Next: Corporate Chicago’s Tribune/Los Angeles Times Company—Part 2

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