Allbritton, Politico’s parent company, considers sale of TV business

Politico| The Huffington Post

Allbritton Communications Co. CEO Robert Allbritton says he has “decided to explore strategic options for our television station company.”

Let me be unmistakably clear to you and potential buyers: there is no chance, none, I will sell POLITICO as part of the deal. My future is POLITICO and companies like it. In fact, my plan is to invest even more in POLITICO and to place additional bets on media companies that meet my definition of successful journalistic and business enterprises. POLITICO continues to carry no debt, funds all investment with operating income and will still turn a profit, again, in 2013. That is the textbook definition of a thriving, sustainable new media company.

ACC, a private company, owns stations in Alabama, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Arkansas, South Carolina and Oklahoma. In Washington, D.C., it owns WJLA-TV, an ABC affiliate, as well as a cable news channel. Politico’s main newsroom shares space with those operations.

In 2010, Allbritton seemed interested in investing more into local Washington news through the launch of TBD.com and rebranding of NewsChannel 8 — perhaps giving the Washington Post a run for its money,” former Politico reporter Michael Calderone, who broke this news Wednesday morning, writes in The Huffington Post.

But Allbritton showed little patience for the ambitious project, and layoffs started the following year. Former top editors at TBD.com told The Huffington Post last summer that they had expected to have a few years to work toward profitability — not unlike Politico.

(I worked at TBD.com.)

Several reporters have attempted to assess Politico’s financial viability in recent years. Here’s a grainy snapshot:

• In 2010, PaidContent estimated the news organization would “finish calendar 2009 with operating profits of about a million or more.”

• Executive Editor Jim VandeHei said in 2011 revenues were split evenly between Politico’s print edition and its other efforts, which include an events business.

• Politico’s premium subscription site Politico Pro has a high renewal rate, Charlie Warzel reported last June.

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