Tribune Media Second-Quarter Loss Narrows

WGN America LOGO

Programming costs at the firm, which Sinclair has agreed to buy, rose, including $20 million of "additional expense related to the strategic shift toward more profitable original programming at WGN America."

Tribune Media, which has agreed to be acquired by Sinclair Broadcast Group, on Wednesday reported a narrowed second-quarter loss of $30.4 million, compared with its year-ago loss of $161.6 million.

Its loss from continuing operations reached $29.8 million, down from $152.6 million in the second quarter of 2016. The company's adjusted earnings of 36 cents per share came in below Wall Street estimates.

Quarterly revenue dropped 2 percent to $469.5 million, "primarily driven by lower core advertising and political advertising, as well as a decrease in real estate revenues as a result of the sales of certain properties in 2016 and 2017." But retransmission and carriage fee revenue rose.

"Our financial results for the second quarter reflect our focus on continued expense management and positioning the company for long-term profitable growth," said Tribune Media CEO Peter Kern. "We saw strong sequential growth in retransmission revenues during the quarter, which helped offset some softness in core advertising at the national level."

WGA America and its original programming strategy affected the quarterly results. Tribune Media recorded higher programming expenses, including $20 million of "additional expense related to the strategic shift toward more profitable original programming at WGN America."

Said Kern: "While our overall performance was significantly affected by non-recurring expenses and accelerated amortization related to the shift in programming strategy at WGN America, those changes are now behind us, and we expect a much more profitable 2018 with more original hours than the network has ever carried."

And he added: "We continue to aggressively manage expenses across the business; adjusted for the non-recurring costs at WGN America, total consolidated cash expenses were flat despite the continuing increases in network affiliate fees and the increased level of original programming amortization. We also continued monetizing non-core assets, as we sold several real estate properties in the first half of the year, and more recently participated in the sale of CareerBuilder and received a significant portion of our spectrum proceeds."