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Tribune Profits Higher Despite Revenue Drop

Tribune said its consolidated operating profit rose despite lower revenue because of cost cutting.

Operating profit rose 23% to $69 million in the third quarter from $56 million a year ago, before the company emerged from bankruptcy court protection.

Net income was $49.8 million, compared to a $30.6 million loss a year ago, when the company took a $139 million charge for reorganizing.

Revenue fell 5% to $695 million. Operating expenses fell 7% to $626 million.

Tribune, which agreed to buy 19 more television stations from Local TV for $2.725 billion in July, said its broadcast earnings fell $76 million from $81 million a year ago. Tribune said its broadcasting revenue dropped 6% to $248 million because of lower ad revenue and a reduction in the estimated value of barter programming. Tribune said the largest revenue drops were at its stations in Chicago, Washington D.C., and New York.

Tribune stations broadcast Cubs baseball games in Chicago and Yankee games in New York. With both teams having poor years, ratings were down.

Retransmission revenues were up despite ad revenues being down, the company said.

"While we are pleased with the progress we have made on key strategic initiatives in the third quarter, our financial results in the period did not meet our expectations," Peter Liguori, Tribune Company president and CEO, said in a statement. "We are taking targeted actions to position our broadcasting stations for profitable growth and look forward to consummating the pending acquisition of Local TV. Our publishing business has continued to perform well despite ROP revenue declining. Importantly, we are developing compelling original programming content, improving the capabilities of our digital assets, expanding our efforts to increase non-ROP revenue and increasing the profitability and cash flows of our equity investments and real estate portfolio."