Thursday, May 29, 2008

Another asset on the block?

In an attempt to boost its short term liquidty, Tribune Media Services (TMS), which distributes news and entertainment listings, may be up for sale.

"We're providing certain information to parties who have expressed interest in some of the assets owned by TMS, but we have made no decision concerning those assets, and in no event would we sell all of TMS," the spokesman said Wednesday.
The media service could be worth about $200m.

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Monday, May 12, 2008

Cablevision wins bid for Newsday

E&P reports “Tribune will receive $612 million in cash, with its 3% equity stake in the partnership valued at $20 million.”

The deal gives cable television operator Cablevision the ability to combine marketing forces with a daily that has a virtual monopoly in affluent Long Island -- and it gives Tribune a timely infusion of cash as it faces a big payment on the $8.2 billion in debt it took on to go private last December.
Cablevision owns the NBA’s New York Knicks, NHL’s New York Rangers and Madison Square Garden and the purchase of Newsday marks it's “first foray” into newspaper ownership.

The deal brings the newspaper back to local ownership.
"We admire Newsday's strong editorial voice and reputation for quality as well as its leadership in print and online journalism," Cablevision Chairman Charles Dolan [pictured] said in a statement. "We are committed to maintaining Newsday's journalistic integrity and important position in the marketplace," Dolan said.
Here's a few numbers from Bloomberg :
Newsday had a circulation of 379,613 in the six months through March, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations. That's a 4.7 percent drop from a year earlier. The newspaper had $80 million in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization last year, a person familiar with the sale talks said last month.

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Saturday, May 10, 2008

Murdoch’s out

So much for closing a deal with the “man of his word.” News Corp withdrew it’s $580M bid for Tribune Saturday morning. Murdoch indicated last week that he would not raise his price following the $650M bid offered by Cablevision. “It became uneconomical for us to continue,” said Teri Everett of Murdoch's News Corp.  

Zell needs a deal quickly. Revenues continue to decline as newspaper ad sales and circulation slide. With $1B in debt payments coming due this year, the Cablevision offer must certainly be more attractive, not just because its richer but because it won't face as many federal challenges as a News Corp. deal.

"I really think that Tribune is very focused on making sure that they work with someone who can get the deal closed," said Mike Simonton, a bond analyst from Chicago-based Fitch Ratings. "The regulatory and legislative uncertainty around cross ownership could have been playing a role in Tribune's thinking in terms of who to work with."

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Thursday, May 8, 2008

‘Zell owns a valuable thing’

So writes a “loyal Los Angeles Times peon” who launched a new LA blog, Tell Zell What You Really Think, to “explain what he has — from someone who desperately, urgently believes in journalism, nut grafs and all sorts of other good stuff.” On Randy Michael's promotion:

All signs point to Randy taking over. Whatever thin hopes there were for Bill Pate, Zell's BFF from an Oklahoma newspaper family, are vanishing. The radio guys are in charge.

What's that mean? Even less of a voice for the LA Times and other individual newspapers. This whole "petri dish" idea where individual papers seek their own solutions seems less likely with the publishers weakened. The Clear Channel Crew chip away.

Sam thinks Brazil is the new China. Lee thinks newspapers are the new Tears. And Randy? ...
The public (and maybe some frustrated LAT staffers?) are invited to chime in.

(via LAObserved)

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Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Murdoch: ‘I trust Zell absolutely’

Confident Zell is “a man of his word,” Murdoch expects to close his deal to buy Newsday in about a week. The deal is in a "pretty advanced stage," he said. He told anaylsts today that he doesn't think Cablevision will prevail in it's $650 million bid to take Newsday off Tribune's hands.

“We see Newsday continuing to be a very important local newspaper covering two of the greatest counties in America and wealthiest counties in America and the Post covering basically the City of New York, a paper with a very different character,” Murdoch said. “We're not putting them to be one newspaper. But there are great savings in printing and distribution and normal back office (functions). There's a lot we can do together and we'll pursue that. We're very optimistic for both papers. We're hoping to wrap it up within the next week and I dont mean the end of next week, I mean within the next seven days. It takes two to agree, but we're at a pretty advanced stage.”
The unions that represent workers at the New York Post and Newsday will be ready to help him with plans for a “super printing plant”.

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Friday, May 2, 2008

Cablevision ups the ante for Newsday by $70M *

The bidding war is on. Cablevision placed a $650 million bid for the Long Island-based Tribune paper and its subsidiaries. Murdoch and Zuckerman now have the opportunity to reaccess their own offers. Though reports say Zell favors Murdoch, timing and terms are important to any deal.

Cablevision's bid would just about cover a payment due Dec. 4.
Guess who's advising Cablevision on the deal: Former Tribune Co. Chairman and Chief Executive Dennis FitzSimons, with current Tribune management's blessing.

* Is Murdoch out? According to a "person familiar with the matter", Murdoch won't raise his offer. AP

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