Tribune Co. caps $97 mil in deals

Tribune Co. is in the multimedia publishing business.

The Chicago-based media company is spending $ 57 million on Compton’s Multimedia Publishing Group, a unit of Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc. The deal is expected to close in the current third quarter.

Tribune said its Tribune Newspaper Co. unit will be renamed Tribune Publishing Co. “to reflect the unit’s growing scope of interests that include specialty publishing and electronic information services.”

Compton’s, which is located in Calabasas, had long been rumored to be up on the block, with Paramount Communications and News Corp. reportedly in the bidding (Daily Variety, April 1). It is one of the largest publisher of CD-ROM titles. With 140 employees, it publishes “interactive multimedia software” in CD-ROM for the consumer and education markets. Among its listings are the Compton’s Encyclopedia. For the 12 months ended June 30, Compton’s had revenue of about $ 28 million; Tribune said the unit’s revenues “have grown at an annual rate of more than 50% over the past three years.”

Tribune said it sees Compton’s “as a natural extension of our publishing business to include not only print but multimedia as well.”

Contemporary Books publishes popular nonfiction as well as educational books and materials. Tribune said Contemporary’s principal owner Harvey Plotnick will continue as chief executive. The Chicago company had revenues of $ 20 million in the fiscal year ended in June, and about 100 employees.

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