Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Tribune TV stations downplay affiliation with CW network

Some websites, including that of KTLA-TV Channel 5, are being redesigned to drop the CW brand and instead focus on local identity.

By Meg James, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

The CW television network launched its new fall prime-time season with some of its highest ratings Monday night, but not before its TV station partner, Tribune Co., took steps to downplay its association with the youth-oriented network.

Chicago-based Tribune, which also owns the Los Angeles Times, has begun redesigning some of its websites, including that of KTLA-TV Channel 5 in Los Angeles, by dropping the CW network brand and instead focusing on its local identity.

The moves underscore the uneasy alliance between Tribune, which is under pressure to boost revenue amid a slowdown in advertising, and the CW, which failed last season to attract a large audience.

The CW's pursuit of young viewers clashes with Tribune's focus on its newscasts, which generate most of its TV stations' revenue and appeal to older viewers.

Tribune switched affiliation from CW to Fox Broadcasting Co. at its San Diego station this year, leaving 13 of 23 Tribune stations still airing CW programs.

Tribune said the station re-branding, first reported by Hollywood publication Variety, was not a slight to the CW. KTLA and many of the Tribune station websites prominently promoted "90210," which launched Tuesday, and "Gossip Girl," which delivered strong ratings Monday in key demographic groups.

The CW, a joint venture between Time Warner Inc. and CBS Corp., began its third season Monday with encouraging ratings. It is betting big on "90210," a remake of the 1990s Fox hit "Beverly Hills 90210."

"We want the prime-time programming rolling out this week, and in the coming weeks, to be successful. We need it to be successful," Tribune spokesman Gary Weitman said.

The CW declined to comment.



In a move to increase cash available to cover Tribune's huge interest and principal payments on the debt incurred in Sam Zell's purchase of the media giant, the Tribune Company announced today that Gannett has acquired an additional 10 percent stake in CareerBuilder from Tribune for $135 million. The CareerBuilder employment site is said to be worth $1.35 billion.

Tribune will use the cash to pay down some of the $13.4 billion debt related to the buyout led by real estate mogul Zell. The company recently sold off Newsday to Cablevision for $650 million; Wrigley Field, the Chicago Cubs, Tribune's interest in a local regional sports network, the LA Times building, and Chicago's Tribune Tower are also on the block.

The acquisition gives Gannett a 50.8 percent controlling interest in CareerBuilder, the U.S.’s largest online job site.

“This transaction offers us an excellent opportunity to monetize some of the value CareerBuilder has built over the years, while enabling us to maintain a significant stake in a great online property,” said Sam Zell, Tribune’s chairman and chief executive officer.

Tribune now owns 30.8 percent of CareerBuilder; The McClatchy Company (NYSE: MNI) continues to own 14.4 percent; and Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) continues to own 4 percent.

TRIBUNE is America's largest employee-owned media company, operating businesses in publishing, interactive and broadcasting.

In publishing, Tribune's leading daily newspapers include the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Sun (Baltimore), South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Orlando Sentinel, Hartford Courant, Morning Call and Daily Press.

The company's broadcasting group operates 23 television stations, including KTLA and WPIX; WGN America on national cable; Chicago's WGN-AM; Wrigley Field and the Chicago Cubs baseball team.

Popular news and information Web sites complement Tribune's print and broadcast properties and extend the company's nationwide audience.

Sam Zell says "At Tribune we take what we do seriously and with a great deal of pride. We also value the creative spirit and are nurturing a corporate culture that doesn't take itself too seriously. "

In the nurturing spirit of Sam's lighthearted corporate structure, Tribune has laid off approximately 20% of their print employees, with more company wide cuts expected.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Please drop the hyphen from Sun-Sentinel. Sam Zell sold it.