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Tribune revenue falls 3.3%

The slowdown in real estate hurts classified ad sales in the four weeks ended Nov. 25.

December 13, 2007|Thomas S. Mulligan | Times Staff Writer

Hard hit by a real estate slump that put a dent in classified advertising, Tribune Co., parent of the Los Angeles Times and KTLA-TV Channel 5, saw consolidated revenue for the four-week period ended Nov. 25 sink 3.3% to $413 million from $428 million a year earlier.

Publishing revenue dropped 3.5% to $309 million from $321 million in 2006, with ad revenue down 4.9% to $244 million from $257 million a year earlier. Revenue from retail and national advertising was up 7.3% and 1.9%, respectively, primarily resulting from the early kickoff of the holiday advertising season because of this year's early Thanksgiving, Chicago-based Tribune reported Wednesday.

Those gains were swamped by a 26.2% decline in classified advertising revenue. Within that category, real estate plunged 39.8%, with the biggest declines in Chicago, Florida and Los Angeles. Help-wanted-ad revenue was down 28.4% and automotive was down 7.6%.

Interactive ad revenue, primarily included in the classified ad category, reached $21 million in November, up 7.8%, with gains in most categories, Tribune said.

Broadcasting and entertainment revenue for the period fell 2.6% to $104 million, with TV revenue down 4.8% because of a lack of political advertising compared with the year-earlier period.

Continued belt-tightening kept expenses down across the board. Publishing operating expenses were down 5.2% because of lower costs of newsprint and ink, compensation and promotion. Broadcasting and entertainment group expenses were down 2.7%, largely because of lower compensation and a reduction in other cash expenses.

Tribune reiterated that it intended to close its $8.2-billion buyout -- under which it will convert from a public to an employee-owned company -- by the end of the year. It also said it planned to complete the sale of the Chicago Cubs baseball team in the first half of 2008, using proceeds to reduce the $13 billion in debt that will be on the books when the buyout closes.

Besides The Times, KTLA and the Cubs, Tribune owns the Chicago Tribune, Newsday in New York and six other newspapers and 22 other TV stations around the country.

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thomas.mulligan@latimes.com

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