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Tribune Co. revenue climbs 1% in 2010

The privately held media company's operating cash flow increases $140 million to $635 million largely because of its TV stations. Operating cash flow at the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune was essentially flat.

January 26, 2011|By Ameet Sachdev and Phil Rosenthal

Reporting from Chicago — Tribune Co. said Wednesday that operating cash flow at its two largest publishing units — the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune — was essentially flat in 2010 compared to 2009, while overall operating cash flow increased $140 million to $635 million.

"The past year showed substantial improvement over 2009," Chandler Bigelow, Tribune's chief financial officer, said in a statement.

The increase was attributed largely to the performance of Tribune's television stations across the country, which benefited from expansion of local programming and a surge in fourth-quarter political advertising.

Tribune's publishing division, which continued to face what the Chicago company described as "a difficult environment for print advertising," said it significantly slowed the rates of decline in both revenue and operating cash compared with 2009.

The media company has been operating under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection since December 2008 and, Tuesday filed last month's operating report with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware. Because it operates privately, Tribune is not required to disclose all of the financial details required of a publicly traded concern.

The 2010 operating cash flow exceeded the company's projection of $617 million that was included in its reorganization plan filed in late October. Tribune also receives cash from several investments, including the Food Network, Classified Ventures and CareerBuilder, that are not included in operating cash flow.

Tribune said its consolidated revenue increased 1% compared with 2009 but it did not provide numbers. In October the company projected in court documents that it would finish 2010 with $3.18 billion in revenue.

The company also said its consolidated cash operating expenses decreased 4%.

"Now it is time to move forward into 2011," the four-man executive council leading Tribune said in a note to employees. "This will be a challenging year due to a number of factors, including a reduction in political advertising in broadcasting and continued pressure on print advertising, particularly in the national advertising category. But, there is also a lot of opportunity ahead. "

Because there won't be midterm elections in 2011 and because there continues to be pressure on print advertising, especially in the national category, Tribune said the new year "will remain challenging."

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