Saturday, February 16, 2008

Tribune-Times-Mirror's Historic Corporate and Chicago Cubs Connection

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

The Tribune Company has had some interesting corporate connections since the 1970s. Among the institutions upon whose corporate boards Tribune Company directors have sat on since the 1970s were Commonwealth Edison Company, Esmark, Inc., the University of Chicago, the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry, the MacArthur Foundation, Northwestern University, Bache Global Fund, Aetna Life Insurance, CBS, Sara Lee, Carnegie Corp. of New York, Encyclopedia Britannica, Chicago Educational Television, First National Bank of Chicago, Illinois Power, Maytag, American National Can and Sears Roebuck.

Members of the Tribune-Times-Mirror media conglomerate’s board in 2008 currently sit on the boards of Equity Group Investments, International Creative Management, Oracle Corporation, the Greenspan Corporation, the Las Vegas Sun, Western Union, Northern Trust, Coventa Holding Corporation, Yahoo!, Xerox, Citizens Communications, Chemed Corporation, Secret Communications, Hanover Compressor Company and Caterpillar. In addition the chairman of the Tribune Company board, billionaire real estate developer Sam Zell, is also a member of the national advisory board of J.P. Morgan.

Although the Tribune Company’s WPIX-Channel 11 television station broadcast New York Yankees baseball games for many years, it actually owned the Chicago Cubs baseball team, not the New York Yankees, during the 1990s. After purchasing the Chicago Cubs in 1981 for $21 million—at the same time it was starting to claim that it lacked the money to pay union wages at the New York Daily News—the Tribune Company began to broadcast Cubs games on its WGN-TV station in Chicago, “with commercials for the Chicago Tribune” and “with all three units generating Tribune profits,” (NY Times 11/12/90).

The Tribune Company purchased the Chicago Cubs in order to acquire “a source of inexpensive and dependable programming” (NY Times 11/20/90), not apparently because of any special love for baseball. And, according to the Tribune Company’s 1993 corporate disclosure form, the Cubs simply “represent an important source of live programming for the Company’s Chicago-based broadcasting operations and regional cable programming service.”

(Downtown 4/13/94)

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