Tribune Co. compensation expenses fell $90 million this year

The Chicago Tribune | Chicago Sun-Times

Tribune Co. filed a form with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Monday outlining its plans to spin off its publishing company. Tribune also owns TV stations, and separating its holdings this way “would enable Tribune Co. to offload its publishing assets while avoiding the large capital gains tax it would incur from an outright sale of the newspapers,” Robert Channick writes.

The new company will be called Tribune Publishing and will own Tribune’s newspapers, which include The Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, The Baltimore Sun and The Hartford Courant. “We expect acquisitions to continue to be an important component of our business strategy,” the company notes in its filing.

The SEC filing also breaks down some categories that were previously rolled in with company-wide results. In the first nine months of 2013, compensation expenses at Tribune’s publishing properties “fell 17%, or $90 million, in the nine months ended Sept. 29, 2013 due primarily to lower pension expense and reductions in direct pay and benefits realized from continued declines in staffing levels.” The company’s most recent financial results said it had eliminated 360 positions in that time period, “primarily in publishing.”

Tribune said in November it intends to cut 700 jobs from its publishing division, though few of those reductions would hit its newsrooms.

Advertising revenues were down 8 percent in the first nine months of 2013, and circulation revenues were up 2 percent, “due largely to higher sales of digital editions at most newspapers and rate increases at certain of the newspapers,” the filing says.

Tribune’s publishing business got 61 percent of its revenues from advertising in 2012, the filing says, and 22 percent from circulation. Seventeen percent of its revenues came from auxiliary businesses, such as preprinted inserts and commercial printing.

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