Profit at Tribune Co., the parent of the Los Angeles Times and other newspaper, radio and television properties, fell sharply last year amid a further decline in newspaper advertising and a significant drop in earnings at its broadcast division.
The Chicago media company reported net income of $241.6 million for the year, down 43% from $422.5 million in 2012. Total operating revenue fell 8% to $2.9 billion, with a 6% decline in publishing and an 11% drop in broadcasting.
For the fourth quarter, revenue dropped $97 million, or 11%, to $773 million, partly because the quarter included one fewer week than the previous year’s final three months. Quarterly net income was $67.1 million, but no year-earlier figure was provided.
The results showed the ongoing pressure facing newspaper companies as they grapple with the continuing migration of readers to digital devices, which have been unable to generate sufficient advertising dollars to offset diminished print revenue.
Tribune’s results also were clipped by weakness in its broadcasting division, stemming from lower ad revenue and accounting changes after its emergence from bankruptcy at the end of 2012.
For the publishing unit, operating profit jumped to $234.3 million from $88.8 million, an increase stemming from cuts in operating expenses of nearly $260 million. Newspaper ad revenue fell $106 million, or 9%, to just shy of $1.1 billion.
Compensation expenses in the publishing unit fell 18% to $688.7 million, primarily because of reduced pension costs and lower staffing levels. Tribune eliminated 870 jobs last year, all but 40 of them in the newspaper division.
“In the publishing business, our operational actions have stabilized profitability, and we are confident that we are building a solid foundation for this business’ future,” said Tribune Chief Executive Peter Liguori.
For the broadcasting business, operating profit fell 47% to $195.9 million as operating revenue dropped 11% to $1 billion. Ad revenue declined 7% to $809.7 million.
Liguori said the company stabilized broadcasting revenue in the fourth quarter.
The publishing chain is being spun off as a separately traded public company by Tribune, which plans to retain ownership of its TV stations and other properties. The separation is expected to happen this summer.