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Tribune’s Broadcast Revenues, Profits Decline

Apr 15, 2005  •  Post A Comment

Tribune Co.’s television operations fell victim to lower ratings at The WB Network and persistent weakness in the advertising market, leading the broadcast group to report revenue and operating profit declines in the first quarter.

Tribune, which owns 26 television stations and holds a stake in The WB Network, reported that its broadcast operation’s operating profit fell 15 percent to $87 million, from a year-earlier figure of $102 million. Revenue declined 5 percent to $290 million.

The company blamed the station group’s results on lower ratings at its New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Boston stations on the introduction by Nielsen of Local People Meters in those markets, which has resulted in downward pressure on ratings as fewer younger viewers are captured in the new measurements. Tribune officials said they are encouraged that Nielsen is investigating how to more accurately capture the younger viewers that are the lifeblood of Tribune’s stations and The WB Network.

Also weighing on the station group was weakness in advertising categories such as automotive, movies and telecommunications.

The TV operations’ results were a slight factor in Tribune’s overall results. The company for the quarter reported revenues of $1.3 billion, about flat with a year ago, while net income surged nearly 19 percent to $142.8 million.