Trib ups stake in WB net

Lays out $8 mil for %25 share

The Tribune Co. on Thursday exercised its final option to boost its equity stake in the WB Television Network, upping its share from 21.9% to 25% for $8 million.

Time Warner now owns 64% of the WB, and through a limited partnership, WB CEO Jamie Kellner owns 11%.

Tribune Broadcasting stations are the WB’s launch group in the nation’s largest markets, and the $8 million Tribune paid went to Time Warner.

Tribune originally acquired 12.5% of the WB in August 1995 for $12 million, and in March 1997 the company increased that stake to 21.9% for $21 million. Tribune no longer has an option to purchase a larger piece of the emerging netlet.

Right now, Tribune’s increased stake means it will pay a larger percentage of the WB’s losses, which totaled $87 million last year.

The purchase is considered a vote of confidence in the future of the weblet, which has improved its ratings 19% this season, in part because of the launch of its Tuesday lineup. The WB plans to expand to a fifth night in January.

Tribune cited programs such as “Dawson’s Creek,” “7th Heaven” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” as reasons for increasing its ownership stake. Tribune stations are up 11% during the February sweep vs. last year on nights with WB programming. On Tuesday alone, the Trib stations are up 42% from last year, when the WB didn’t program that night.

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 0

Leave a Reply

No Comments

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

More Biz News from Variety