Tribune profit plummets

Co. attributes drop to settlement with advertisers

NEW YORK — Earnings at Chicago-based Tribune Co. fell off a cliff for the second quarter as reparations for its circulation reporting snafu led to a walloping 58% earnings drop.

Tribune on Thursday reported net profits of $96.4 million for the three months ended in June, down from $229.5 million a year earlier. Company said a forthcoming $35 million settlement with advertisers over circulation misstatements at two of its newspapers contributed to the reversal of fortunes. Revenues rose a scant 3% to $1.5 billion for the quarter.

The troubles may not yet be over, as Tribune further disclosed that an internal investigation had identified additional misstatements at Newsday of Long Island, and Hoy, its Spanish-lingo newspaper in New York.

Tribune chairman-CEO Dennis FitzSimons called the circulation over-statements “unacceptable and wholly out of character.” He told analysts Thursday that the situation at the two papers “is complex and will take some time to fully resolve.” But, he added, “be assured that it will be fixed as quickly as possible.”

Company also recorded a $17 million charge for the elimination of 375 jobs, half of them at the Los Angeles Times.

Excluding the charges, company insisted its broadcasting group is looking healthy thanks in part to the ramp-up in political advertising.

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