Deal Recalls KTLA Purchase

Tribune Co.'s merger with Times Mirror Co. is reminiscent of another major acquisition by the Chicago-based media company nearly 15 years ago: the purchase of KTLA Channel 5 in Los Angeles.

Tribune bought the television station in 1986 for a then-unprecedented $510 million from Golden West Broadcasting, which had bought it for $245 million just three years earlier from cowboy star Gene Autry.

Until then, Tribune, which owned TV stations in New York, Chicago and several other major cities, lacked a presence in Los Angeles, the country’s second-largest media market. Acquiring KTLA gave Tribune the ability to launch TV programs on a near-national basis.

Times Mirror fills another void for Tribune--providing the national “footprint” to attract advertisers, as Tribune Chairman and Chief Executive John W. Madigan put it in a memo to Times employees.

The deal is different in one notable respect: In buying KTLA, Tribune was forced by the Federal Communications Commission to sell the Van Nuys-based Daily News because of rules prohibiting a single company from owning both a TV and newspaper in the same city.


Today, the FCC generally grants waivers to allow such shared parentage.