Tribune Media’s retransmission and carriage fee revenues both rose in the first quarter as the company prepares to be absorbed by Sinclair.
Retransmission revenues increased 13% to $94.2 million and carriage fee revenues increased 8% to $33.6 million. Still, revenues for Tribune’s television and media segment revenues fell 4% to $436 million during the quarter because of a $17.7 million decrease in net core advertising revenue and a $13.7 million decrease in net political advertising revenue.
Television and entertainment operating profit fell from $58.6 million in the year-ago quarter to $20 million, down 66%. Tribune blamed the decrease on lower revenues and increased programming expenses of $17.1 million, driven by a larger number of original hours aired on WGN America and higher network affiliate fees.
Tribune reported cash distributions from its stake in Food Network rose to $111.5 million during the quarter, up from $89.3 million one year ago.
Of course, Tribune’s financial report this year is being overshadowed by Sinclair’s recently announced deal to acquire Tribune’s TV stations and cable networks for $3.9 billion.
"We are pleased and excited with Monday's announcement that Tribune Media has agreed to be acquired by Sinclair Broadcast Group, marking the culmination of a thorough strategic review which focused on optimizing shareholder value," said Peter Kern, Tribune Media's interim CEO, in a statement. "As for the first quarter, our financial results were in line with our expectations, with anticipated reductions in political advertising and real estate revenues, and increased programming expenses due to airing more hours of originals at WGN America. We expect the next three quarters will be strong as we cycle past core advertising displacement, realize significant acceleration of retransmission revenues, and continue disciplined expense management across the company. We are reaffirming our full year financial guidance for 2017 and are intensely focused on completing our transaction with Sinclair."