The Tribune Company is going to spin off its newspapers, including The Los Angeles Times and The Chicago Tribune, into a newly formed Tribune Publishing Company, the company announced this morning. Its broadcasting properties will remain together in the Tribune Company.
The move ends months of speculation and mirrors a similar decision by News Corp., which late last month formally separated its newspapers and entertainment assets. The common motivation, according to a report in The New York Times, is an effort to separate high-value, high-return entertainment and television assets from newspapers, which face a difficult operating environment that drags down earnings.
Peter Liguori, Tribune’s president and CEO, cast this central issue in quite a different light: "Moving to separate our publishing and broadcasting assets into two distinct companies will bring single-minded attention to the journalistic standards, advertising partnerships and digital prospects of our iconic newspapers, while also enabling us to take advantage of the operational and strategic opportunities created by the significant scale we are building in broadcasting."
The Tribune Company, which emerged from bankruptcy at the end of 2012, recently demonstrated its commitment to broadcasting with the purchase of 19 television stations in 16 markets, bringing its total number of television stations to 42 and making it the largest U.S. station operator.