This continues Tribune‘s campaign to become a TV and data power, as it spins off its newspaper publishing operation. The company says today that its tech arm, Tribune Digital Ventures, will buy TV By The Numbers, a source of ratings analysis and programming news. No word on financial terms, but the company will feed some of the info to its entertainment website Zap2it — which Tribune says will have “a renewed focus on helping TV fans discover programs to watch across linear TV and streaming services and providing integrated advertising opportunities designed to reach that valuable audience.” It also will make licensing deals with third-party apps and services. “Our goal is to make TV By The Numbers a must-have analytics and data resource for passionate viewers and Hollywood insiders alike,” says Tribune Digital Ventures President Shashi Seth. “Viewership numbers, audience reviews and social data are increasingly becoming reliable indicators of TV show popularity, making TV By The Numbers analysis data essential to the evolving ecosystem.” Zap2it will enable programmers to advertise to TV fans. Both camps “need an integrated TV discovery and editorial source, so we’re excited to unveil the all-new Zap2it to meet those needs,” the site’s executive director of sales, Brian Campbell, says.
CHICAGO, Dec. 27, 2013—Tribune Company announced today that it has completed the final steps necessary to close its acquisition of Local TV Holdings, LLC. The transaction creates the largest combined independent broadcast group and content creator in the country. As a result of this acquisition, Tribune now owns 39 television stations across the country. In addition, Tribune will provide certain services to support the operations of three former Local TV stations owned by Dreamcatcher Broadcasting LLC. The combined broadcast portfolios include 14 FOX affiliates, 14 CW affiliates, 5 CBS affiliates, 3 ABC affiliates and 2 NBC affiliates. Tribune owns 14 stations in top-20 markets and the company is now the #1 FOX affiliate group and the #1 CW affiliate group in the country. The transaction added market-leading stations in prime cities such as Denver, Cleveland, St. Louis, Kansas City, Salt Lake City and Milwaukee to the Tribune lineup.
This should make life a little easier for Time Warner Cable as it prepares to deal with a likely acquisition proposal from Charter, and for Tribune as it closes its $2.73B acquisition of Local TV. The …
The TV station deals, both announced over the summer, now are cleared to close. Gannett, which owns 23 stations, will pay $1.5B (not including $715M in debt) to add Belo’s 20 outlets. The owner of USA Today is …
CEO Peter Liguori told staffers in a memo today that he wants the business units at his publishing operation — which includes the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, and The Hartford Courant — to organize “by function, rather than by geography.” The goal is to “continue investing in the lifeblood of our business: best-in-class reporting, effective sales and digital growth.” But while newsrooms aren’t the primary targets for the layoffs, editorial staffs will see “selective reduction” from the drive to cut the workforce by about 6%. The changes come as Tribune plans to sell or spin off the publishing operations, and bulk up on television stations. As part of today’s announcement, L.A. Times Publisher Eddy Hartenstein and Tribune Publishing CEO Tony Hunter promised to handle the layoffs “with respect, dignity, and assistance for the future.” They also named executives to run the revamped units. The list includes Chicago Tribune’s advertising SVP Bob Fleck who’s now EVP of Advertising for Tribune Publishing, and LA TImes EVP Bill Nagel who has been named EVP of Marketing for Tribune Publishing. The company emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection at the end of 2012. Tribune says that in Q3 the publishing unit generated $44.7M in operating profit, up from $1.3M last year, on revenues of $446.4M, -3.9%.
Here’s Liguori’s memo:
Listen to (and share) episode 42 of our audio podcast Deadline Big Media With David Lieberman. Deadline’s executive editor talks with host David Bloom about emerging trends from the first half of 2013, led by a renewed appetite for dealmaking; Tribune’s big broadcasting bet as it comes out of bankruptcy; and what’s driving up prices for the red-hot stocks of Cablevision and Lionsgate.
This is the most startling deal yet in the recent consolidation wave among TV station owners. With Local TV‘s 19 stations in 16 markets, Tribune will have 42 stations, up from 23. It will have outlets in 14 of the top 20 markets including New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Seattle, Denver, Cleveland, St. Louis, Kansas City, Salt Lake City and Milwaukee. It will become the largest owner of Fox affiliates, with 14. The deal also will boost Tribune’s status as the CW network’s top distributor, with 14 stations. In addition, Tribune says that it will have five CBS stations, three for ABC, two for NBC, and four independents. “This is a transformational acquisition for Tribune — it makes us the #1 local TV affiliate group in America, expands the distribution platform for our high-quality video content, and extends the reach of our digital products to new audiences across the country,” Tribune CEO Peter Liguori says.
The companies cite most of justifications you usually hear when station groups combine: They’ll improve local news coverage. It will strengthen their ability to capitalize on ad sales “in key political battleground states.” And it will offer economies of scale. Tribune says that it expects to see $100M a year in run-rate synergies within five years. The company says it can pay for the deal with debt and cash on hand. It has lined up $4.1B in financing commitments from JPMorgan Chase, BofA Merrill Lynch, Citigroup, Deutsche Bank and Credit Suisse. That includes a new $300M revolving credit facility so it can refinance its existing debt. Tribune – which emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection at the end of 2012 — has made it clear that wants to bulk up on TV while it considers plans to sell its newspapers, which include the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune.
UPDATED: Former Fox Broadcasting Co. and FX executive Matt Cherniss is returning to the TV business and reuniting with his former boss Peter Liguori. Cherniss is joining Tribune Co. as President/General Manager of WGN America and the newly formed Tribune Studios. At superstation WGN, Cherniss replaces Julio Marenghi, who has been named President of Broadcast Media Sales.
Tribune Studios marks Tribune’s official re-entry in the TV production business. The company was a leading producer and distributor of first-run syndication programming in the 1980s and ’90s through its division Tribune Entertainment until it was shut down in 2007. In the past couple of years, Tribune had signaled its interest in re-entering the space. It produces and distributes daytime syndicated program The Bill Cunningham Show and has interest in CBS’ Arsenio Hall late-night talk show and The Test, which will launch on Tribune’s 23 local TV stations in the fall. With Tribune Studios, the company plans to build on and expand what it is doing on Arsenio Hall and The Test by producing and co-producing programming that targets the needs of its stations and the superstation, Tribune CEO Liguori said, noting that “No longer can a media company look at their stations and network as a vehicle to deliver ratings and ad revenue, it’s a much bigger play.”
“Appellant’s emergency motion for stay of the bond order is dismissed as moot,” the Third Circuit Court of Appeals today told Aurelius Capitol Management and other junior creditors in the Tribune Co. bankruptcy. The creditors were seeking to avoid having to put up a $1.5 billion bond in order to get a six-month stay of the media company’s restructuring and emergence from Chapter 11. Citing “lack of jurisdiction,” the three-judge panel said No in a two-page decision (read it here) to hearing an appeal on the August 27th denial of the creditors’ request to alter the bond order.
Tribune Co. creditor Aurelius Capital Management today lost its emergency bid to delay the media company’s plan to emerge from bankruptcy. Aurelius sought to delay Tribune’s plan for six months without putting up the $1.5 billion …