Tribune company

Tribune Company
Traded as
Industry News, entertainment, broadcasting
Founded 1847
Headquarters Chicago, Illinois
Key people Peter Liguori, President/CEO
Products Television, newspapers, radio, television production
Revenue Increase US$3.18 billion (FY 2010)
Owner(s) Oaktree Capital (23%)
Angelo, Gordon & Co. (9%)
JPMorgan Chase & Co. (9%)
(corporate employees hold the remaining 48% ownership interest)
Employees 14,000

The Tribune Company (Tribune) is an American multimedia corporation based in Chicago, Illinois. Although majority owned (48%) by its corporate employees, Tribune is jointly controlled by the company's three senior debt holders: Oaktree Capital Management (which owns a 23% interest), Angelo, Gordon & Co. and JPMorgan Chase (which both own 9%).

It is the nation's second-largest newspaper publisher (behind the Gannett Company), with ten daily newspapers and several commuter tabloids including the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Orlando Sentinel, Sun-Sentinel and the Baltimore Sun. Through Tribune Broadcasting, the company owns 23 television stations, national cable superstation WGN America, regional cable news channel Chicagoland Television (CLTV) and Chicago's WGN radio. Investment interests include Food Network (which the company maintains a 31% ownership interest).

Tribune Technology LLC, another subsidiary, manages the interactive operations of major daily newspapers such as the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times and their associated websites. Its national network sites owned with partners include,, and Its Tribune Media Services division provides syndicated content to print and electronic media. Key company investment interests include CareerBuilder (30.8% owned), Classified Ventures (28%) and (34%).


Print pioneer

The Tribune Company was founded in 1847; that year, on June 10, the Chicago Daily Tribune (after which the company is named) published its first edition[1] in a one-room plant located at LaSalle and Lake Streets. The original press run consisted of 400 copies printed on a hand press. The Tribune constructed its first building, a four-story structure at Dearborn and Madison Streets, in 1869. In October 1871, the Great Chicago Fire destroyed the building, along with most of the city. The Tribune printed its first edition since the disaster two days later with an editorial declaring "Chicago Shall Rise Again." A native Ohioan who first acquired an interest in the Tribune in 1855, Joseph Medill gained full control of the newspaper in 1874 and ran it until his death in 1899.[1]

Medill's two grandsons, cousins Robert R. McCormick and Joseph Medill Patterson, assumed leadership of the company in 1911.[1] That same year, the Chicago Tribune's first newsprint mill opened[1] in Thorold, Ontario, Canada. The mill marked the beginnings of the Canadian newsprint producer later known as QUNO, in which Tribune held an investment interest until 1995.

Patterson's establishment of the company's second newspaper, the New York News in 1919.[1] Tribune's ownership of the New York City tabloid[1] was considered "interlocking" due to an agreement between McCormick and Patterson.

The paper launched a European edition during World War I.[1] To compete with the Saturday Evening Post and Collier's in 1924, the Tribune Company launched a weekly national magazine, Liberty, run by a subsidiary, McCormick-Patterson.[1]

Move into broadcasting

Main article: Tribune Broadcasting

The company entered broadcasting in 1924 by leasing WDAP, one of Chicago's first radio stations. Tribune later changed the station's call letters to WGN, reflecting the Tribune's nickname, "World's Greatest Newspaper." WGN was purchased in 1926 and went on to be first in the radio industry.[1]

In 1925, the company completed its new headquarters and one of Chicago's first "skyscrapers", the Tribune Tower. Also that year, the company decided to fund the future Joseph Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.[1]

The Liberty magazine eventually exceeded Collier's circulation but lacked enough advertising and was sold in 1931. The Tribune's European edition was also cut. However, Tribune launched the Chicago Tribune-New York News Syndicate in 1933.[1]

With the death of Joe Patterson's sister and owner of the Washington Times-Herald, Eleanor (Cissy) Patterson, in 1948, the Tribune Company purchased the paper and operated it until 1954, when The Washington Post absorbed the Times-Herald. The Tribune expecting a printer's strike in 1948 printed their paper early, incorrectly proclaiming "Dewey Defeats Truman" in the 1948 presidential election. Tribune moved into the television industry, then in its infancy, in 1948, with the establishments of WGN-TV in Chicago in April and WPIX in New York City in June of that year. In 1956, Tribune Company purchased William Randolph Hearst's Chicago American.[1]

In the 1960s, the company entered the fast-growing Florida market, acquiring the Fort Lauderdale-based Gore Newspapers Company, owner of the Pompano Sun-Sentinel and Fort Lauderdale News in 1963 and the Sentinel-Star Company, owners of the Orlando Sentinel, in 1965. Also in 1963, some of part of the folded New York Mirror were purchased. The company increased its broadcast station holdings with the acquisition of radio station WQCD-FM in New York City in 1964 and independent television station KWGN-TV in Denver in 1965. While in 1967, a Chicago suburban tabloid, The Suburban Trib, began printing.[1]

The corporation was reorganized in 1968 by reincorporating in Delaware, ending its Illinois incorporation, splitting its stock by four for one and formign a separate Chicago Tribune subsidiary.[1]

The 1970s was another decade of acquisitions including a Los Angeles shopper in 1973 which became the Los Angeles Daily News.[1] In 1973, the company began sharing stories among 25 subscribers via the newly formed news service, the Knight News Wire. By 1990, this service was known as KRT (Knight-Ridder/Tribune) and provided graphics, photo and news content to its member newspapers. When The McClatchy Company purchased Knight-Ridder Inc. in 2006,[2]

The company stopped publishing the tabloid Chicago Today in 1974 with the Tribune going to all-day editions. With an approved changes to the Tribune bylaws in 1974 triggered a lawsuit by shareholders seeing this as moving the company towards taking it public. The lawsuit by Josephine Albright – Joseph Patterson's daughter – and her son, Joseph Albright, was dismissed in 1979.[1]

The Tribune Company entered first-run television syndication in 1975 with the debut of the U.S. Farm Report. The Times-Advocate in Escondido, California was purchased in 1977. In 1978, WGN-TV became a "superstation" on cable. The New York Daily News saw multiple strikes in 1978.[1]

In 1980, the Daily News added an afternoon edition to go head-to-head with the New York Post, but failed, with the discontinuance of the new edition in 1981. Also that year, the Independent Network News (an evening newscast intended for independent stations) was launched as the company's second syndicated television program, originating from WPIX. The New York Daily News was put up for sale in 1981, but a proposed deal fell through by 1982. While in August, Tribune purchased the Chicago Cubs baseball team from William Wrigley III.[1]

All of Tribune's television stations were placed under the company's umbrella subsidiary, Tribune Broadcasting Company (TBC), in 1981. The next year had all Tribune's broadcast syndication properties, including the U.S. Farm Report, placed under the Tribune Entertainment Company (TEC).[1]

As a public corporation

In 1983, The Suburban Trib was replaced by zone editions of the main paper. That October, the Tribune Company went public with the sale of 7.7 million shares at $26.75 a share. With addition of Los Angeles's KTLA to the Tribune Broadcasting television station roster for a record $510 million in 1985, due to FCC cross-media rules Tribune was forced to sell the Los Angeles Daily News. With the purchase of KTLA, Tribune became the fourth largest television station owner, behind the three major broadcast networks. The Daily Press in Newport News, Virginia, joined Tribune's newspaper group in 1986 but sold off the Daily Press's cable television operations. To counteract a possible hostile corporate takeover in 1987, the Tribune Company developed a plan that allowed shareholders rights to purchase additional preferred shares from a new series of stock in the event of a buyer buying 10 percent of the company's common stock or a tender offer for the company. Shareholders also ratified a two-for-one stock split. Tribune Entertainment had a success with the 1987 launch of the syndicated daytime talk show Geraldo. Five weekly papers in Santa Clara County, California were purchased by Tribune in 1988.[1]

In the wake of a dispute with some of its labor unions, the Daily News was sold to British businessman Robert Maxwell in 1991.[1]

With the changes that came about in the media industry with the greater public access to the internet in the 1990s, Tribune Publishing, Tribune's publishing unit, began to trim back the number of newspapers it owned. Tribune Broadcasting grew and Tribune Company launched two new divisions, Tribune Ventures and Tribune Education. In 1993, Tribune Broadcasting launched Chicagoland Television (CLTV), the first 24-hour, local cable news channel to serve the Chicago area. Online editions of Tribune's newspapers were being developed starting in 1995 with the Chicago Tribune's digital edition launching in 1996. Tribune (which held a 20% interest), also in 1996, created a joint venture with American Online (which held an 80% interest) called Digital City, Inc. to set up a series of Digital City websites to provide interactive local news and information services. By 1997, Tribune Publishing had only four remaining daily newspapers: Chicago Tribune, the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, the Orlando Sentinel, and Virginia-based Daily Press. Tribune also set up its Tribune Ventures division to take stakes in newer media businesses. The ventures unit purchased in the middle of that year included interests in AOL (4 percent), electronic payment specialist CheckFree Corporation (5 percent), search engine company Excite, Inc. (7 percent), Mercury Mail, Inc. (13 percent), Open Market, Inc. (6 percent), and Peapod LP (13 percent). Also that year, the Orlando Sentinel and Time Warner Cable joined together to create another local news cable channel. Tribune also purchased a 31% stake in the Food Network.[1]

The company began the 1990s with six television stations, however changes in federal radio and television ownership regulations allowed Tribune to expand its television station holdings over the next decade. Tribune Broadcasting purchased ten additional stations by 1997, six of them were through that year's purchase of Renaissance Broadcasting for $1.1 billion in cash. Tribune purchased a 12.5% stake in Warner Bros. Television Network in August 1995; the company had ten of its 16 stations affiliated with the network (including five that were signed as charter affiliates through The WB's initial 1993 affiliation deal with Tribune). Tribune invested $21 million in The WB in March 1997, which increased its equity interest in the network to 21.9 percent.[1]

In November 1994, Tribune Broadcasting formed a partnership with several minority partners, including Quincy Jones, to form Qwest Broadcasting; Qwest operated as a technically separate company from Tribune (which owned stations in a few markets where Tribune had already owned stations, including WATL in Atlanta, which was operated alongside Tribune-owned WGNX);[3]

Tribune entered into a new business sector when it formed Tribune Education in 1993. The sector grew and provided high profit margins. From then until 1996, Tribune used $400 million to purchase several publishers of education material: Contemporary Books, Inc., The Wright Group, Everyday Learning Corporation, Jamestown Publishers, Inc., Educational Publishing Corporation, NTC Publishing Group, and Janson Publications. This group was the number one publisher in 1996 of supplemental education materials. Tribune Education took a 80.5% stake in mass market children's book publisher Landoll in 1997.[1]

Tribune traded WQCD-FM to Emmis Communications, in exchange for two television stations (WXMI in Grand Rapids, Michigan and KTZZ in Seattle, Washington) in June 1998. It later exchanged WGNX in Atlanta for KCPQ-TV in Seattle in March 1999. Later that year, the station purchased WEWB in Albany, New York and WBDC in Washington, D.C. Tribune Interactive, Inc. was incorporated to handle all the various websites for its publishing, television and radio, and newspaper properties. In 1999, Tribune racked up $1.47 billion in profits during the fiscal year on total revenues of $2.92 billion, in part from gains made on the sale of some of its internet investments. In February 2000, Tribune acquired the remaining 67% interest in Qwest Broadcasting for $107 million, effectively adding two more stations to its roster, increasing its reach 27% of the country.[1]

In June 2000, the Los Angeles-based Times Mirror Company merged with Tribune, effectively doubling the size of Tribune's newspaper holdings. The $8.3 billion transaction was the largest acquisition in the history of the newspaper industry.[4] The Times Mirror merger added seven daily newspapers to the Tribune group, including the Los Angeles Times, the Long Island-based Newsday, The Baltimore Sun and the Hartford Courant.[1]

Tribune became the only media company that owned both newspapers and television stations in the three largest media markets of New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago.[1] Among other advantages from the merger, including various economies of scale, Tribune's newspapers could now effectively compete for national advertising being the third largest newspaper group. Tribune Media Net, the national advertising sales organization of Tribune Publishing, was established in 2000 to take advantage of the company's expanded scale and scope. By 2001, revenues had grown to $5.25 billion.[1]

However, Tribune needed to pay down some of the debt that it accrued through the Times Mirror purchase; as a result, Tribune moved to sell various non-newspaper holdings operated by Times Mirror. Flight information provider Jeppesen Sanderson was sold to Boeing for $1.5 billion in October 2000. Also in October, the Institute for International Research purchased AchieveGlobal, a consulting and training firm for $100 million. Times Mirror Magazines was sold to Time, Inc. in November of that year for $475 million. Tribune divested itself of its Tribune Education division to The McGraw-Hill Companies for about $686 million in September 2000. After all these sales, Tribune still had $4 billion in long-term debt. Tribune started a joint venture with Knight-Ridder, CareerBuilder that same year.[1]

After the 2001 September 11 attacks, the media sector suffered a greater decrease in advertising revenue. This forced a 10% reduction in staff companywide and $151.9 million restructuring charge.[1]

In 2002 and 2003, Tribune Broadcasting bought four additional television stations, increasing its total television holdings to 26 stations, some of which were acquired via trades of the company's radio stations; this left its one-time radio flagship WGN (AM) in Chicago as the company's only remaining radio station. Tribune Publishing purchased the monthly lifestyle publication Chicago from Primedia, Inc. in August 2002. Hoy, a Spanish language newspaper owned by the company, expanded into with the launch of local editions in Chicago (in September 2003) and Los Angeles (in March 2004).[1]

Tribune also launched daily newspapers targeting younger urban commuters, including the Chicago Tribune's RedEye edition in 2003, followed by an investment in AM New York.[1] Also in 2003, Tribune also pushed for the FCC to loosen its regulations barring cross-ownership of newspapers, and television and/or radio outlets in a single market; Tribune would have to sell either a newspaper or television station in Los Angeles, New York City and Hartford while its combination of the Sun-Sentinel and WBZL-TV in Miami/Fort Lauderdale, Florida was given a temporary waiver. The FCC granted waivers for the other newspaper-television combinations in June 2003.[1]

In 2006, Tribune acquired the minority equity interest in AM New York, giving it full ownership of the newspaper. The company sold both Newsday and AM New York to Cablevision Systems Corporation in 2008.

Tribune's partnership in The WB ended in 2006, when it was shut down – along with CBS-owned UPN – to create The CW Television Network, which is jointly owned by CBS and Time Warner and is affiliated with several Tribune-owned stations;[5] Tribune does not maintain an ownership interest in the network.

Zell ownership

On April 2, 2007, Chicago-based investor Sam Zell announced plans to buy out the media company for $34.00 a share, totalling $8.2 billion.[6] Zell's intentions were to turn the company private. The deal was approved by 97% of the company's shareholders on August 21, 2007.[7] Privatization of the Tribune Company occurred on December 20, 2007 with termination of trading in Tribune stock at the close of the market.[8]

On December 21, 2007, Tribune and Oak Hill Capital Partners-controlled Local TV, LLC announced plans to collaborate in the formation of a "broadcast management company" (later named The Other Company).[9] On January 31, 2008, Tribune Company announced it would purchase real estate leased from TMCT, LLC, which includes properties used by the Los Angeles Times, Newsday, Baltimore Sun and Hartford Courant. The company received an option to purchase the real estate for $175 million through the 2006 restructuring of TMCT, LLC.

In addition, Tribune announced the sale of Tribune Studios and related real estate in Los Angeles to private equity firm Hudson Capital, LLC, for $125 million. The parties also agreed to a five-year lease allowing its television station in the city, KTLA, to continue operating at the location through 2012.[10]

On April 28, 2008, Tribune completed an acquisition of real estate from TMCT Partnership.[11] On July 29, 2008, Cablevision Systems Corporation completed its purchase of Newsday from Tribune.[12]

On September 8, 2008, United Airlines lost (and later the same day almost regained) $1 billion in market value when an archived Chicago Tribune article from 2002 about United filing for bankruptcy appeared in the "most viewed" category on the South Florida Sun-Sentinel's website. Google News index's next pass found the link as new news. Income Security Advisors found the Google result to be new news, which was passed along to Bloomberg News where it became a headline (Tribune, which owns both papers, noted that one click on a story in non-peak hours could flag an article as "most viewed"[13]).

Bankruptcy filing

On December 8, 2008, faced with a high debt load related to the company going private and a sharp downturn in newspaper advertising revenue, Tribune filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.[14] Company plans originally called for it to emerge from bankruptcy by May 31, 2010,[15] but the company would end up in protracted bankruptcy proceedings for another four years. With the company's overall debt totaling $13 billion, it was the largest bankruptcy in the history of the American media industry.[6]

On October 27, 2009, Thomas S. Ricketts purchased a majority ownership (95%) of the Chicago Cubs. The sale also included Wrigley Field and a 25 percent ownership stake in Comcast SportsNet Chicago, as part of a deal designed to help Tribune restructure.[16] In October 2010, Randy Michaels, who was made CEO after Zell's purchase of the company, was removed and replaced by an executive council. The New York Times had reported earlier in the month about his "outlandish, often sexual behavior" that he also exercised in his previous job at Clear Channel Communications.[17][18]

Employees ownership

On July 13, 2012, Tribune Company received approval of a reorganization plan to allow the company to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in a Delaware bankruptcy court. Oaktree Capital Management, JPMorgan Chase and Angelo, Gordon & Co., which are the company's senior debt holders, assumed control of Tribune's properties upon the company's exit from bankruptcy on December 31, 2012.[19][20]

On February 26, 2013, it was reported that Tribune hired investment firms Evercore Partners and J.P. Morgan to oversee the sale of its newspapers.[21] On July 1, 2013, Tribune announced that it would purchase the 19 stations owned by Local TV, LLC outright for $2.75 billion.[22]

Tribune later announced its return to television production on March 19, 2013, with the relaunch of the production and distribution division as Tribune Studios (not to be confused with the former name of Los Angeles studio facility Sunset Bronson Studios).[23]

On July 10, 2013, Tribune announced that it would split into two companies, spinning off the newspapers that are part of its publishing division into the Tribune Publishing Company. Its broadcasting, digital media and other assets (including Tribune Media Services, which among others, provides news and features content for Tribune's newspapers) would remain with the Tribune Company.[24]


Digital assets

Note: This list is partial.

Website Link Affiliates
CareerBuilder McClatchy and Gannett Wholly owned Wholly owned
Metromix Gannett McClatchy and Gannett

See also

Chicago portal
Companies portal


External links

  • Tribune Company's official website
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.