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No. 13: Tribune


Revenue: $5.7 billion

Net Profit: $224 million

Tribune, the nation’s third-largest newspaper publisher and a Chicago institution, grew dramatically last year when it inked a deal with Times Mirror adding such titles as the Los Angeles Times, the Hartford Courant and Newsday.

Tribune itself owns a portfolio of assets including the Chicago Times; 22 TV stations; 25% of AOL Time Warner’s WB network; a handful of radio stations; a growing collection of Internet sites; the Chicago Cubs baseball team; and Tribune Entertainment, which develops and distributes first-run TV programming for the Tribune station group and for national syndication.

Tribune’s expansion on the newspaper side had a few happy months before it was hit, like other publishers and broadcasters, with the current sluggish advertising market that’s eating into revenue. A wave of job buyouts and other cutbacks at Tribune papers led to a $14 million restructuring charge earlier this year. The LA Times said last month that it’s planning to lay off 1,570 part-time workers in its distribution system and close several offices.

However, execs were cautiously optimistic last month, noting that the downturn in advertising may have leveled off in late June and into July — meaning the worst may be over. However, the current (third) quarter isn’t likely to show a real uptick.

Like Gannett, Tribune is seen as acquisitive if the cross-ownership ban is lifted. Company recently won Federal Communications Commission permission to buy a station in Waterbury, Conn. It already owns a Fox affiliate and the Courant in nearby Hartford. It got a waiver to keep both stations but was given only six months to comply with the cross-ownership rule.

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