Tribune Media Second-Quarter Earnings Rise

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Peter Liguori

CEO Peter Liguori touts retransmission fee increases and upcoming political advertising opportunities

Tribune Media Co. on Tuesday reported improved second-quarter earnings in the first financial report since the recent split of the Tribune entertainment and publishing businesses.

The media firm reported earnings of $82.9 million, up from $66.3 million in the year-ago period. Revenue rose 23 percent to $894.5 million, helped by the recent acquisition of TV stations. Operating profit fell 32 percent to $61.3 million from $89.6 million, but other factors boosted the bottom line.

After the end of the quarter, the company formerly known only as Tribune Co. changed its name to Tribune Media, with its print businesses recently spun off as Tribune Publishing.

Tribune Media consists of 42 owned or operated broadcast stations, national entertainment network WGN America, Tribune Studios, Tribune Digital Ventures, WGN Radio, real estate properties and strategic investments. Tribune Publishing‎ operates the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Orlando Sentinel and other newspapers, as well as local news services.

Said Tribune Media CEO Peter Liguori of the latest financials: "I am very pleased with our accomplishments in the second quarter. The premiere of WGN America's original series Salem exceeded our expectations, and we have renewed it for a second season. While the core advertising market experienced headwinds in the first half of the year, we continue to be encouraged by the strength of our new broadcast scale, as evidenced in our year-over-year retransmission fee increases, and feel positive about the opportunities presented by the political advertising landscape in the second half of 2014."

Broadcasting unit revenue jumped 63 percent to $425.8 million, or 4.9 percent when adjusted for the recent TV station acquisition. Advertising revenue fell 2.2 percent, but retransmission revenue jumped 78.0 percent. Operating cash flow in the broadcasting segment fell from $149.2 million to $140.5 million amid $24.5 million of additional costs associated with new original programming at WGN America.

Publishing revenue in the three months ended June 29 dropped 0.2 percent to $468.7 million amid advertising declines. Publishing operating cash flow fell 20 percent to $56.1 million.

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