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Monday, June 19, 2006

Tribune sells WCWN-TV in Albany for $17M

Gains in publishing, broadcast lift May revenue up 2.1% to $467M on gain in publishing, ad income

(AP) — Tribune Co. said Monday it is selling WCWN-TV in Albany to Freedom Communications Inc. for $17 million, the second announced sale of one of its 26 television stations in two weeks.
The deal is part of the media company's strategy to sell $500 million in assets to boost its lagging stock price.

"This transaction, like our recently announced sale of WATL-TV in Atlanta, supports our company's plan to divest non-core assets as part of the stock repurchase strategy announced last month," Tribune Chairman and CEO Dennis FitzSimons said.

Separately, Tribune said its May revenue climbed 2.1 percent to $467 million, lifted by a rise in publishing and advertising income.

Revenue from its newspaper unit, which includes the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times, increased 2 percent to $330 million while broadcasting and entertainment sales were up 2.3 percent to $138 million. Circulation revenue fell 5 percent on selective discounting.

The company, which also owns 11 daily newspapers, has declined to be specific about other assets it might sell but said it doesn't intend to sell any assets in its three major markets of Los Angeles, New York and Chicago.

Besides more of its remaining TV stations, other asset sales could include its stock holdings in private and public companies or its 31 percent stake in the Food Network cable TV operation.

Tribune said the transaction will close after it receives regulatory approval.

Freedom already owns WRGB-TV, the local CBS affiliate, in the Albany market.

WCWN, Channel 45, was acquired by Tribune in 1999 from WMHT Educational Telecommunications. Tribune changed its call letters from WMHQ to WEWB, reflecting its new affiliation with the WB Network, and changed them again last month to WCWN in preparation for the station's launch as a CW Network affiliate this fall.

Tribune shares rose 41 cents to $32.33 in morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

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