Higher Copyright Royalties Boost Tribune TV Revenues

Tribune’s television operating revenues in the third quarter rose to $288 million (4 percent over the same period last year).

Station revenues at WGN (Chicago) and WGN Cable were up, primarily due to higher cable copyright royalties, the company said. KPIX (New York) was also up for the quarter, but revenues at KTLA (Los Angeles) were down. On a group basis, advertising revenue declines in the movies and automotive categories, as well as the absence of political advertising, were partially offset by gains in the telecom, health care and food/packaged goods categories.

“In television, ad revenue improved as the quarter progressed,” said Dennis FitzSimons, Tribune chairman, president and CEO. “New York [KPIX] finished the quarter strong on higher ratings from new syndicated programming and the CW network’s fall launch. Chicago also had a good September, thanks in part to Chicago Cubs telecasts.”

Tribune’s television’s cash operating expenses were down 1 percent, or $1 million, primarily due to lower broadcast rights.

Overall, Tribune reported third quarter 2007 earnings per share 69 cents, up from 65 cents in the third quarter of 2006. Overall revenue fell, most significantly due to drops in newspaper advertising revenue.

FitzSimmons said the company’s plan to go private (and largely under the control of real estate magnate Sam Zell) in an $8.2 billion deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter, following regulatory approval.

The company also announced it was selling two Connecticut newspapers, the Advocate (in Stamford) and Greenwich Time, to Hearst Corporation for $62.4 million.

Tribune Broadcasting owns and operates 23 television stations.