Tribune offloads Hoy New York


CHICAGO -- Tribune Co. said Monday it is selling the Spanish-language daily newspaper Hoy New York to ImpreMedia LLC for an undisclosed sum, saying the publication is continuing to lose money.

The sale, expected to close during the first quarter, does not include the Hoy newspapers in Los Angeles and Chicago.

Tribune continues to dispose of select small parts of its overall holdings as it prepares to make a decision this quarter on whether to sell or spin off a large chunk of the company or undertake another plan to increase its lagging share price.

The Wall Street Journal, citing unidentified people familiar with the situation, said the company is leaning away from accepting any outside offer and opting instead for a restructuring. The report said board members and advisers are working on a "self-help" plan widely expected to involve spinning off the company's broadcast division and borrowing money to pay out a one-time cash dividend to shareholders.

The media conglomerate has sold three television stations since last summer, leaving it with 11 daily newspapers, 23 TV stations, Internet businesses and the Chicago Cubs baseball team.

Hoy New York, which is free, has a daily circulation of about 56,000.

"Although Hoy New York made good progress over the last year, we did not see a path to profitability in this market," said Scott Smith, president of Tribune Publishing, the newspaper division.

ImpreMedia is the owner of New York's El Diario La Prensa, the nation's oldest Spanish-language newspaper, with a daily paid circulation of about 50,000, and the weekend paper El Diario Contigo.

"The addition of Hoy New York to the ImpreMedia national sales network will significantly increase our penetration of the New York Hispanic market," said Erich Linker, senior vice president of sales for ImpreMedia.

Tribune will continue to publish weekly Spanish-language newspapers in Orlando, Fla., and South Florida in addition to the two Hoy editions, which it said will be more closely aligned with the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune, its two largest dailies.

Tribune spokesman Gary Weitman declined comment on the timing of a meeting of the company's board, which is thought to be convening this week to review options. CEO Dennis FitzSimons reiterated last week that a final announcement on a decision involving the company's five-month-old strategic review plan is expected by the end of March.

Three proposals were submitted by the company's January deadline but none are thought to have been attractive enough for the company to accept. Those offers were made by the Chandler family, Tribune's largest shareholder; Los Angeles billionaires Ron Burkle and Eli Broad; and The Carlyle Group, a private equity firm based in Washington, D.C.

Shares in the company fell 20 cents to close at $30.29 on the New York Stock Exchange.

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- AT&T Inc.'s Cingular Wireless will use Qualcomm Inc.'s new MediaFlo wireless network to deliver broadcast television to mobile phones by the end of this year, the companies announced Monday.

The deal is a victory for Qualcomm as it tries to establish MediaFlo as the leading technology in mobile TV. Verizon Wireless plans to launch the MediaFlo service under the name V Cast Mobile TV in at least one market by the end of March.

Terms of the agreement between AT&T and Qualcomm were not disclosed.

AT&T has not determined pricing, which programs will be broadcast, or where the service will be launched first, said spokesman Mark Siegel. Subscribers who buy the service will need a new handset that can pick up the broadcast signal in addition to the regular cellular signal for phone calls.

The deal is a setback for Crown Castle International Corp., a cell tower operator that has launched a trial of a live TV network for cell phones but has yet to announce carrier customers.

The Crown Castle venture, dubbed Modeo, uses a rival technology called DVB-H. That platform has been embraced by wireless operators in Europe and elsewhere that already use the globally dominant technology known as GSM to connect phone calls.

Albert Lin, a securities analyst at American Technology Research, said AT&T's decision makes prospects for DVB-H in the U.S. "very dim," though Qualcomm's MediaFlo still faces a steep, uphill battle in Europe.

"There's a divide between the U.S. and Europe," he said.

AT&T's entry also may deprive Verizon Wireless of a chance to get a huge jump on the U.S. market, Lin said.

Among other U.S. wireless carriers, Sprint Nextel Corp. and T-Mobile USA have tested MediaFlo, and Alltel Corp. plans to try it soon, said Gina Lombardi, president of MediaFlo USA.

Sprint, however, said Monday it has no immediate plans to deploy MediaFlo, having recently concluded its trial with the service. Instead, the company will focus on its current Sprint TV service, consisting of more 50 channels of video and audio. The video on that service is delivered at slower frame rates than the broadcast quality Qualcomm has promised.

"We feel that our offering today is very complete and robust, so we're continuing to offer that to our customers," said Jennifer Walsh, a Sprint spokeswoman. "We'll keep the door open, but at this point we don't have any plans to deploy that technology."

MediaFlo has not announced carriers outside the U.S. In Japan, KDDI Corp. and Softbank Corp., that nation's No. 2 and No. 3 mobile carriers, are evaluating the service.

In the U.K., British Sky Broadcasting Group PLC said Monday that it completed a trial in Manchester that showed MediaFlo has "considerable technical advantages" over DVB-H. BSkyB also tested MediaFlo in Cambridge last year.

Shares Qualcomm closed down 26 cents, or 0.7%, at $38.05 on the Nasdaq Stock Market after rising as high as $38.80 earlier in the day.