The Tribune Company announced Wednesday morning that it will split its publishing and broadcasting holdings into two separate companies. The division will allow Tribune Co. to focus more on the aspect of its business that's actually making money—television. The company just bought 19 local television stations for $2.73 billion last week, making it the biggest commercial TV station owner in the U.S.
Tribune Co.'s newspapers, which include the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, The Baltimore Sun, and others, will now fall under the Tribune Publishing Co. Its 42 current TV stations will remain part of Tribune Co. Both entities will have their own board of directors and senior management team. The split will take 9 to 12 months to complete and is subject to some regulatory approvals. Investors will receive shares in Tribune Publishing Co. once everything is settled.
Koch Industries, owned by big Republican donors Charles and David Koch, expressed interest in buying the news properties in May, which drew protests from union organizations. For now, Tribune Co. is backing off any kind of sale of their publishing arm, though they've hired advisers to "evaluate interest from potential buyers." Charles Koch told The Wichita Eagle Monday morning that a bid for Tribune Publishing Co. is "possible." He commented,
We are at square one on that. There are tremendous changes going on in media, in taking media as a whole, all forms of communication. We’re back at square one analyzing where is the most change, where are the best opportunities for new entrants to come in and add value? And so newspapers are one, but there are all sorts of others. There’s the Internet, there’s TV. There’s entertainment. And so we don’t know where we’ll end up on that.
CEO Peter Liguori said in a statement that the split will bring "single-minded attention to the journalistic standards, advertising partnerships and digital prospects of our iconic newspapers."
Tribune Co.'s division follows a similar one at News Corporation in June. News Corp., headed by Rupert Murdoch, split their T.V./film and publishing holdings into 21st Century Fox and News Corp., respectively.