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Tribune Company Business Information, Profile, and History

435 North Michigan Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60611-4066

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Mission: Build businesses that inform and entertain our customers in the ways, places and at the times they want.

History of Tribune Company

Tribune Company is one of the largest media companies in the United States. Its diversified businesses are arranged within two main operating units: Tribune Publishing, generator of 72 percent of overall revenues, and Tribune Broadcasting and Entertainment, which accounts for the remaining 28 percent. Tribune Publishing publishes 13 leading daily newspapers, including papers in each of the three largest U.S. markets: the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, and Newsday (Long Island, New York). Other newspapers include the South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale), the Orlando Sentinel, the Baltimore Sun, and the Hartford Courant, as well as three Spanish-language newspapers in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, all called Hoy. Tribune Publishing also manages the web sites for both the company's newspapers and its television stations; operates CLTV, a 24-hour local cable news channel serving the Chicago area; runs the Tribune Media Services syndication service; and owns various community newspapers, niche magazines, and classified advertising-based publications. Tribune Broadcasting and Entertainment owns and operates 26 television stations, the national cable superstation WGN, and Chicago radio station WGN-AM; develops and syndicates television shows, such as Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda and Mutant X, through Tribune Entertainment Company; owns the Chicago Cubs major league baseball team; and holds a 22 percent stake in The WB Television Network and a 31 percent interest in the TV Food Network. Eighteen of the firm's television stations are WB affiliates.

Starting with the Chicago Daily Tribune in 1847

The company originated with the first publication of the Chicago Daily Tribune on June 10, 1847. The newspaper's founders were James Kelly, who also owned a weekly literary newspaper, and two other journalists, John E. Wheeler and Joseph K.C. Forrest. At the time, the paper was one of three major dailies published in Chicago.

The founders soon parted company, however, and the Chicago Daily Tribune had gone through several changes in ownership and editorial policy by 1855, when it was sold to a man who would be influential in its history, former Cleveland, Ohio, newspaperman Joseph Medill. His associates in the purchase were Charles Ray, a physician, journalist, and political activist in Springfield and Galena, Illinois, and John Vaughan, a coproprietor of Medill's Cleveland paper. Under Medill's leadership, the Tribune maintained a strong antislavery stand but abandoned the antiforeign, anti-Catholic, and antisaloon campaigns that the paper had led previously. It also reorganized its presentation of news, establishing separate departments for local, national, and international stories.

Coming out of the economic panic of 1857, the Tribune was having financial problems, but so was a competitor, the Democratic Press. The two papers merged in 1858, resulting in the Chicago Daily Press and Tribune. Active in the partisan journalism common in its day, the paper was allied with the recently formed Republican Party. It supported Abraham Lincoln in his unsuccessful campaign to unseat U.S. Senator Stephen Douglas in 1858 and in his successful campaign for the presidency in 1860.

In 1860 the paper's name was returned to the Chicago Daily Tribune. The following year the Tribune Company was incorporated and the paper became the Chicago Tribune. That year, 1861, also brought the start of the Civil War, during which the Tribune gained national fame for its excellent wartime news coverage and its support of the Union cause. The paper's Sunday edition appeared during the war, disappeared for a while, and was resumed after the war, to the chagrin of local ministers. In October 1871 came a disaster against which the Tribune had warned--the Great Chicago Fire--which devastated the city, filled as it was with wooden buildings and suffering a lack of firefighting equipment and regulations. As the city rebuilt, Joseph Medill was elected mayor on the Union-Fireproof ticket. Medill declined to run for a second term in 1873. In 1874 he emerged victorious in a struggle with Managing Editor Horace White for editorial control of the Tribune; Medill borrowed money from department store owner Marshall Field to gain full control of the company's stock.

The Tribune grew and prospered, as did Chicago itself, in the years after the fire. As it entered the last decade of the 19th century, the paper was attractive, vocal, and profitable, reporting annual income of $1.5 million a year. In 1895 the Tribune lowered newsstand prices and increased circulation. Medill's son-in-law, Robert W. Patterson, became increasingly important to the Tribune; he was named general manager in 1890, after having been managing editor for seven years. At Medill's death at age 76 in 1899, Patterson assumed the titles of editor-in-chief of the newspaper and president of Tribune Company. Medill's last words reportedly were, "What is the news this morning?"

In 1900 a formidable competitor came to Chicago, as William Randolph Hearst began publishing the Chicago American, a paper with a Democratic political alliance and a sensational reporting style. It was an evening paper but later added a morning edition as a direct competitor to the Tribune. The Tribune and the Hearst papers engaged in a circulation war that lasted 20 years, marked at times by physical violence among newspaper vendors.

The early part of the century also was marked by the rise to power by two of Joseph Medill's grandsons, Robert R. McCormick and Joseph Medill Patterson. Their mothers, Katherine Medill McCormick and Elinor Medill Patterson, battled frequently over Tribune affairs after Medill's death. Katherine McCormick's eldest son, Medill McCormick, made a mark on the Tribune as a reporter and later business executive, but left the paper in 1910; he had been plagued by psychiatric illness and, upon recovery, opted for a career in politics. Meanwhile, Robert Patterson, Joseph Patterson's father, had died in 1910. In 1911 Joseph Patterson was elected chairman of Tribune Company and Robert McCormick was named president. Their immediate accomplishments were Patterson's upgrading of the Sunday paper and McCormick's initiation of a paper mill to produce newsprint for the Tribune.

According to their biographers, Patterson and McCormick had many differences, including political ones--McCormick was a staunchly conservative Republican, while Patterson was far more liberal. Still, under their leadership Tribune Company expanded and diversified, and both became well-known public figures, retaining titles from their World War I military service--Colonel McCormick and Captain Patterson. During the war, the Tribune had more correspondents at the front than any other Chicago morning daily, and McCormick and Patterson themselves were among these correspondents. After the war, the Tribune pulled off a major publishing coup with early publication of the Treaty of Versailles. By 1920 the Tribune had the largest circulation of any Chicago newspaper.

Diversifying in the Early 20th Century

By then, the parent company also had expanded beyond Chicago, with Patterson's opening of the New York News--formally the Illustrated Daily News and later known as the Daily News--in 1919. Eventually, the New York paper, a lively tabloid, became the largest circulation newspaper in the United States. In 1924 Tribune Company formed a subsidiary to publish a weekly national magazine, Liberty, designed to compete with the Saturday Evening Post and Collier's. It passed Collier's in circulation, but did not attract adequate advertising, so was sold in 1931.

Also in 1924, Tribune Company launched a more enduring venture, with the leasing of Chicago radio station WDAP, whose call letters it changed to WGN--standing for World's Greatest Newspaper, a nickname the Tribune had given itself. Two years later, Tribune Company bought the entire station. The station's early programming included coverage of the 1925 Scopes trial and a comedy show called Sam 'n' Henry, which eventually went network as Amos 'n' Andy. It was also the first station to broadcast the World Series, the Indianapolis 500, and the Kentucky Derby.

The year 1925 was marked by the Tribune Company's opening of its new headquarters, Tribune Tower, a 36-story Gothic tower that is still a Chicago landmark, and the company's decision to provide funds to a journalism school at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, just north of Chicago. The school became known as the Joseph Medill School of Journalism, one of the most prestigious in the United States.

The 1920s provided many political and crime stories that made the decade a lively one for newspapers, but the 1920s ended with the worst stock market crash in history, ushering in the Great Depression. Tribune Company weathered the economic downturn by cutting unprofitable and marginal ventures, such as Liberty and the Tribune's European edition, which had begun during World War I. There was one new venture, however, the Chicago Tribune-New York News Syndicate, which was formed in 1933 and was the forerunner of the Tribune Media Services news syndicate. Editorially, McCormick's Tribune was vociferously opposed to President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal programs, while Patterson's Daily News generally was sympathetic to them. Later, however, the cousins joined in opposition to Roosevelt over U.S. entry into World War II. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, though, the papers supported the war effort.

Joseph Patterson died in 1946. Briefly, McCormick took over the management of the Daily News, but concluded it was in good hands with Patterson's widow, Mary King Patterson, and other top executives. In 1948 came the death of Joe Patterson's sister, Eleanor (Cissy) Patterson, who had owned the Washington Times-Herald. Tribune Company acquired the paper and operated it until 1954, when it was absorbed by the Washington Post.

Entering TV Broadcasting in 1948

In 1948 the Tribune made one of the most famous mistakes in journalistic history: going to press early because of a printers' strike, the paper published the headline "Dewey Defeats Truman" in the 1948 presidential election. The strike ended the following year with no other comparable disasters. The year 1948 also brought a happier milestone in the company's history, the commencement of broadcasting by WGN-TV. This station would become a "superstation" in 1978, when it began reaching a nationwide audience via cable television. Also launched in 1948 was WPIX-TV in New York City (the PIX call letters referring to its founder, the Daily News, New York's first picture newspaper).

Robert McCormick died in 1955 and Chesser Campbell succeeded him as president of Tribune Company. The following year, the company bought Hearst's Chicago American. In 1963 Tribune Company acquired Gore Newspapers Company of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, publisher of the Fort Lauderdale News and the Pompano Sun-Sentinel. Later that year, the New York Daily News acquired certain assets of the New York Mirror, which had folded. In 1965 Tribune Company bought the Sentinel-Star Company, the Orlando, Florida, publisher of the Orlando Sentinel. Tribune Company also purchased New York radio station WQCD-FM in 1964 and KWGN-TV, an independent television station in Denver, in 1965.

In 1967 the Chicago Tribune responded to suburban growth by beginning to publish a tabloid aimed at suburban readers. The Suburban Trib continued until 1983, when the Tribune opted for zoned editions of the main paper to handle suburban coverage and appeal.

In 1968 there came a major corporate reorganization, with Tribune Company dropping its Illinois incorporation and reincorporating in Delaware, which provided a better climate for companies planning expansion and diversification. The company also split its privately held stock by a ratio of four for one and set up a separate subsidiary to publish the Chicago Tribune. The Chicago newspaper opened 1969 by abandoning the policy of partisan slanting of news, while it remained conservative on the editorial page. Also in 1969, the American was revamped as the tabloid Chicago Today. Today, however, operated at a deficit and ceased publication in 1974, with the Tribune going to all-day editions to replace the afternoon tabloid.

In 1974 Tribune Company shareholders approved changes in bylaws that were widely perceived to be paving the way for taking the company public. Two dissident shareholders, Josephine Albright--Joseph Patterson's daughter--and her son, Joseph Albright, challenged the bylaw changes in a lawsuit that was dismissed in 1979. In 1975 company officials denied any immediate plans to go public, which, indeed, the company did not do until 1983.

In the 1970s the company continued its acquisitive ways, buying a Los Angeles shopper in 1973 and changing it into the Los Angeles Daily News and purchasing the Times-Advocate in Escondido, California, in 1977. The New York Daily News was beset with strikes by pressmen, deliverers, and editorial personnel in 1978, but the parent company still had a record profitable year. Photoengravers also struck the paper briefly in 1979. An afternoon edition of the Daily News began publishing in 1980 to go up against the New York Post; the edition, however, did not succeed in terms of circulation or profits, so it closed the following year. Also in 1980, the company launched a longer-lived venture, the Independent Network News, an alternative to the three major television networks' news programs, originating in the studios of Tribune Company's New York television station, WPIX. The venture was discontinued in 1990.

Purchase of Chicago Cubs in 1981

In August 1981 Tribune Company acquired the Chicago Cubs baseball team from William Wrigley for $20.5 million. The Cubs turned in some good seasons for their new owners, winning the National League Eastern Division title in 1984 and 1989. In 1988, once a city ban was lifted, the company installed lights in Wrigley Field and began Cubs night games; the park had been the last in the major leagues with day baseball only.

Also in 1981, Tribune Company began seeking buyers for the New York Daily News, which had experienced declines in circulation and advertising and rises in costs and competition. When a proposed sale to Texas financier Joe Allbritton fell through, the company opted to revitalize the Daily News, taking a charge of $75 million in the second quarter of 1982 to do so. The paper won concessions from its unions that were expected to result in savings of $50 million a year.

Two key subsidiaries were formed in the early 1980s, highlighting the growing importance of non-newspaper operations to the company. In 1981 Tribune Broadcasting Company was established as an umbrella subsidiary for the television stations. Tribune's original programming activities, which dated back to the syndication of the U.S. Farm Report in 1975, were amalgamated within the 1982-formed Tribune Entertainment Company, which was charged with developing, producing, and distributing television programming for both Tribune and non-Tribune stations.

Purchase of Additional TV Stations in the Mid-1980s

The year 1983 brought the Tribune Company's $21 million purchase of WGNO-TV in New Orleans, as well as the public stock offering that had been the subject of speculation for so long. In October, 7.7 million shares of Tribune Company stock went up for sale to the public at $26.75 each.

Tribune Company acquired two key employees from the Chicago Sun-Times in 1984 after the Sun-Times was sold to Rupert Murdoch, the controversial publisher of the New York Post. James Hoge, who had been publisher of the Sun-Times, moved into that post at the Daily News, and popular columnist Mike Royko switched to the Chicago Tribune from the Sun-Times.

The company also continued acquiring broadcast operations, buying Atlanta independent WGNX-TV in 1984 for $32 million and, the following year, buying Los Angeles station KTLA-TV for $510 million, the largest price ever paid for a TV station. The move also made Tribune Company the fourth largest broadcaster in the United States, just behind the three major networks. Because of the KTLA purchase, Tribune Company had to divest itself of the Los Angeles Daily News to comply with Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules; Jack Kent Cooke, whose other business interests included cable television, real estate, and professional sports, was the buyer. The price was $176 million; Tribune Company had paid $24 million for the paper.

In 1985 three production unions went on strike against the Chicago Tribune, a labor conflict that ended in the company's favor. With the strike, the Tribune discontinued its afternoon edition, a move it had planned anyway, with newspaper circulations slumping around the United States.

Production of television programs became a major business for Tribune Company in the 1980s; most significant during the decade was Tribune Entertainment's launch of the Geraldo Rivera Show, a syndicated daytime talk show, in 1987. The company also continued acquiring print properties, buying Daily Press Inc., a Newport News, Virginia publisher, in 1986 and reselling Daily Press's cable TV operations; in 1988 Tribune Company bought five weekly newspapers in Santa Clara County, California.

Mindful of the rash of unfriendly corporate takeovers in the 1980s, Tribune Company enacted shareholder-rights plans as defenses against such possibilities; a 1987 plan gave shareholders a right to acquire a new series of preferred shares in the event of a potential buyer obtaining 10 percent of the company's common shares or making a tender offer for the company. In 1987 shareholders ratified a two-for-one stock split.

In 1988 the Chicago Tribune replaced its system of independent distributors with a more centralized system. The change resulted in legal challenges by the distributors, with one awarded $1.9 million by an arbitrator.

In August 1990 company veteran Charles T. Brumback became Tribune president and CEO. That year, the company encountered more labor relations problems. Nine of the ten unions at the Daily News went on strike in October; the newspaper struggled to publish with replacement workers and eventually, as the strike dragged into 1991, Tribune Company announced that the paper would close unless it was sold. British publisher Robert Maxwell came to the newspaper's rescue, reaching agreements with the unions that allowed him to take over. In March 1991 the company paid Maxwell $60 million to assume the Daily News' liabilities. Tribune Company had been forced to take a Daily News-related charge of $255 million in 1990, leading to a net loss for the year of $63.5 million.

Expanding into Interactive Media and Education Publishing in the 1990s

The early and mid-1990s were a time of enormous change across all media-related industries. Cable television continued to grow, the consolidation and diversification of media companies--aided by the relaxation of federal regulations governing ownership of media properties--became commonplace, and the Internet emerged as a new format with which to contend and within which to compete. Tribune Company placed itself at the center of all of these changes. The company, which traditionally had been managed fairly conservatively, grew bolder as the decade progressed under Brumback's leadership and that of his successor, John Madigan, who became president in 1994, added the CEO slot in 1995, and then tacked on the chairmanship as well in early 1996.

The company's newspaper publishing unit, known as Tribune Publishing, was scaled back some during this period to focus on its most profitable papers, with several weeklies and smaller dailies being divested. By 1997, only four daily newspapers remained in the fold--Chicago Tribune, the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, the Orlando Sentinel, and the Newport News, Virginia-based Daily Press. Starting in 1995, online versions of each of these papers began to be developed, with the Internet edition of the Chicago Tribune debuting on the World Wide Web the following year. Also in 1996, a joint venture with America Online (AOL) called Digital City, Inc.--80 percent owned by AOL and 20 percent owned by Tribune--led to the creation of a series of Digital City web sites, which provided local, interactive news and information. Tribune Company also formed a unit called Tribune Ventures to invest in various emerging media businesses. By mid-1997, $100 million had been spent to purchase stakes in various interactive services and cyberspace businesses, including AOL (4 percent), electronic payment specialist CheckFree Corporation (5 percent), Internet search company Excite, Inc. (7 percent), e-mail service Mercury Mail, Inc. (13 percent), transaction software company Open Market, Inc. (6 percent), and online grocery shopper Peapod LP (13 percent).

Meanwhile, the company's broadcasting and entertainment sector, known as Tribune Broadcasting, entered cable programming for the first time in 1993 with the launch of CLTV News, Chicago's first 24-hour, local news cable channel; a similar channel was launched in 1997 in central Florida through a joint venture of the Orlando Sentinel and Time Warner Cable. Tribune Company also purchased a 31 percent stake in TV Food Network, a 24-hour basic cable channel covering food, nutrition, and fitness, which by the end of 1996 could be seen in more than 19 million cable households.

The loosening of federal regulations on radio and television ownership enabled Tribune's group of television broadcast stations to grow dramatically in the 1990s. The company began the decade with just six stations but added ten more by 1997. WPHL in Philadelphia was purchased in 1992, WLVI in Boston in 1994 for $25 million, KHWB in Houston in 1996 for $102 million, and KSWB in San Diego also in 1996 for $71 million. In March 1997 Tribune Company became the number two television group in the United States by acquiring Renaissance Communications Corp. for $1.1 billion in cash. The deal brought six more stations to the Tribune fold--KDAF in Dallas, WBZL in Miami, KTXL in Sacramento, WXIN in Indianapolis, WTIC in Hartford, and WPMT in Harrisburg--bringing the total to 16. Ten of the stations were affiliated with the relatively new Warner Bros. Television Network, better known as the WB. This fit in well with Tribune Company's 21.9 percent equity stake in the WB; the company had acquired an original 12.5 percent interest in August 1995, then invested an additional $21 million in the fifth U.S. television network in March 1997.

Already possessing strong positions in two business sectors, Tribune Company quickly added a substantial third leg to its operations with the beginnings of Tribune Education in 1993. From that year through 1996, the company spent more than $400 million to acquire several prominent publishers of supplemental education materials, including Contemporary Books, Inc.; The Wright Group; Everyday Learning Corporation; Jamestown Publishers, Inc.; Educational Publishing Corporation; NTC Publishing Group; and Janson Publications. In just three years, Tribune Education was the number one publisher of supplemental education materials, a publishing sector growing rapidly because of increasing school enrollment while also providing high profit margins. In 1997 Tribune Education spent $80 million for an 80.5 percent stake in Landoll, Inc., a leading publisher of children's books for the mass market, thus providing entrée into the consumer market.

Tribune closed out the decade by acquiring a handful of additional television stations. In June 1998 the company exchanged its WQCD radio station in New York for two television stations: KTZZ (later KTWB) in Seattle and WXMI in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Then in March of the following year, Tribune traded WGNX-TV in Atlanta for KCPQ-TV in Seattle. Two more WB stations were acquired later in 1999: WEWB in Albany, New York, for $18.5 million and WBDC in Washington, D.C., for $125 million. Also in 1999 the company created a subsidiary called Tribune Interactive, Inc. to manage the web sites of its newspapers, television stations, and publishing operations. Gains from the strategic sales of some of the Internet investments helped Tribune Company earn a stunning $1.47 billion in profits in 1999 on total revenues of $2.92 billion.

Blockbuster Times Mirror Acquisition in 2000

Tribune started out 2000 by acquiring the 67 percent of Qwest Broadcasting LLC it did not already own for $107 million in February. Qwest owned television stations WATL in Atlanta and WNOL in New Orleans. Tribune's 22 television stations (15 of which were affiliates of the WB) now reached 27 percent of the country. It was the newspaper operations of Tribune Publishing, however, that gained center stage later in the year. In June 2000 the company acquired the Times Mirror Company in a blockbuster cash and stock deal valued at about $8.3 billion--the largest acquisition in newspaper industry history. Tribune thereby gained seven newspapers, four major papers--the Los Angeles Times, Newsday (Long Island, New York), the Baltimore Sun, and the Hartford Courant--along with smaller papers the Morning Call (Allentown, Pennsylvania), the Advocate (Stamford, Connecticut), and Greenwich Time (Greenwich, Connecticut). Also included in the deal was Hoy, the leading Spanish-language daily newspaper in New York City, which had been launched in 1998. With overall daily circulation of 3.6 million subscribers, Tribune Company became the number three U.S. newspaper company, trailing only Gannett Co., Inc. and Knight-Ridder, Inc. This increased scale, which was also more spread out nationally, positioned Tribune to compete more effectively for national newspaper advertising revenues, and the company created a national sales arm called Tribune Media Net, Inc. to pursue these opportunities. The deal also returned the newspaper side back to its more traditional place of prominence. Whereas only about 55 percent of revenues came from Tribune Publishing in 1999, the Times Mirror deal bumped this figure up to 73 percent by 2001. Revenues reached $5.25 billion in 2001.

To pay down debt taken on to acquire Times Mirror and to focus the company more sharply on market-based media, several divestments were completed in the wake of the deal, including three units acquired along with the Times Mirror newspapers--Jeppesen Sanderson, Inc., AchieveGlobal, and Times Mirror Magazines. Flight information provider Jeppesen Sanderson was sold to the Boeing Company for $1.5 billion in October 2000. AchieveGlobal, a provider of soft skills training and consulting for domestic and international businesses, was sold to the Institute for International Research for about $100 million, also in October 2000. Finally, Times Mirror Magazines, which published such titles as Field & Stream, Popular Science, and GOLF Magazine, was sold to Time, Inc. for $475 million in November 2000. In September 2000, meantime, the company sold Tribune Education to the McGraw-Hill Companies for about $686 million. These divestments left Tribune Company with long-term debt of about $4 billion. Also during 2000, Tribune joined with Knight-Ridder in forming CareerBuilder Inc., an online recruitment company. Two years later, Gannett Co. bought into CareerBuilder, becoming an equal partner with Tribune and Knight-Ridder.

In July 2001 Dennis FitzSimons was named president and chief operating officer of Tribune Company. As head of Tribune Broadcasting, FitzSimons was the driving force behind the series of acquisitions that had made Tribune the largest non-network owner of television stations in the United States. That year, the media industry suffered from a severe advertising slump brought on by the poor economic climate, which was exacerbated post-9/11. CEO Madigan called it "the worst advertising environment since the Depression." Tribune announced in June that it would cut its companywide staff by 10 percent, eliminating more than 2,000 positions. It took a restructuring charge of $151.9 million to effectuate the cuts, leading to a net income figure for the year of just $111.1 million, compared with $224.4 million for 2000.

During 2002 and 2003 Tribune boosted its television station count to 26, and the percentage of U.S. households reached by its broadcast stations surpassed 30 percent. In July 2002 the company traded two of its Denver radio stations for WTTV-TV in Indianapolis and its sister station in Kokoma, Indiana, WTTK-TV. Then in March 2003 Tribune exchanged its last Denver radio station for KWBP-TV in Portland, Oregon. These moves left the company with just one remaining radio station, WGN-AM in Chicago. The fourth television station acquired was KPLR-TV in St. Louis, which was purchased for $200 million in March 2003. On the print side, Tribune Company spent $35 million in August 2002 to acquire Chicago magazine from Primedia, Inc. This monthly publication provided information about entertainment, dining, shopping, and real estate in the Chicago metro area. Attempting to create a national brand, Tribune Publishing launched a Chicago edition of the Spanish-language newspaper Hoy in September 2003, followed by an edition for Los Angeles, which debuted in March 2004. Tribune Publishing also attempted to reach young adults, many of whom were not regular readers of traditional newspapers, through commuter tabloid publications RedEye (Chicago) and amNewYork, both of which debuted in 2003. The Chicago Cubs, meantime, won the National League Central Division in 2003 and then proceeded to win their first postseason series in 95 years. The team came within one victory of reaching the World Series, losing the National League Championship Series in heartbreaking fashion thanks in part to an overenthusiastic fan who interfered with a Cub player attempting to make a catch in foul territory.

FitzSimons took over as president and CEO of Tribune Company in January 2003, becoming the first person to attain that position without first serving as publisher of the company's flagship newspaper, the Chicago Tribune. At the end of 2003 Madigan retired from the company after a 28-year career, as FitzSimons took on the chairmanship as well. Although an improved advertising environment helped the company achieve stellar profits of $891.4 million on record revenues of $5.59 billion in 2003, the new leader faced one major challenge involving federal government regulations of media ownership. Tribune lobbied hard for changes to these rules to loosen even further the rules regarding cross-ownership of newspapers and television stations in one market and concerning limits on the number of broadcast stations that one company may own. In June 2003 the FCC voted to relax the rules in both these areas. Crucial for Tribune was the easing of cross-ownership prohibitions, because the Times Mirror acquisition had placed Tribune in violation of federal regulations as a result of its ownership of both a newspaper and a television station in three markets: Los Angeles, New York, and Hartford; its holdings in the Fort Lauderdale/Miami market also violated the rules but had been granted a temporary waiver pending completion of the proposed regulatory overhaul. (The firm's Chicago holdings predated the regulations, so they were exempt.) Without changes to the regulations, Tribune would need to make divestments to place itself into compliance as the licenses for the television stations come up for renewal, which would begin in 2005 with the Miami station. The FCC vote to relax the rules ignited a firestorm of public protest, court challenges, and legislative proposals to overturn or modify the new rules, lending a real measure of uncertainty to Tribune Company's future.

Principal Subsidiaries: PUBLISHING: Tribune Publishing Company; The Baltimore Sun Company; Chicago Tribune Company; The Daily Press, Inc.; E Z Buy & E Z Sell Recycler Corporation; Forum Publishing Group, Inc.; The Hartford Courant Company; Hoy Publications, LLC; Orlando Sentinel Communications Company; The Morning Call, Inc.; Southern Connecticut Newspapers, Inc.; Sun-Sentinel Company; TMD, Inc.; Newsday, Inc.; Tribune Classifieds, Inc.; Tribune Los Angeles, Inc.; Los Angeles Times Communications LLC; Los Angeles Times Newspapers, Inc.; Tribune Manhattan Newspaper Holdings, Inc.; Tribune Media Services, Inc.; Tribune Media Net, Inc.; Tribune National Marketing Company. BROADCASTING AND ENTERTAINMENT: Tribune Broadcasting Company; ChicagoLand Microwave Licensee, Inc.; ChicagoLand Television News, Inc.; KHWB Inc.; KSWB Inc.; KPLR, Inc.; KTLA Inc.; KWGN Inc.; Oak Brook Productions, Inc.; Tower Distribution Company; Tribune Broadcasting News Network, Inc.; Tribune Broadcast Holdings, Inc.; Tribune Entertainment Company; Tribune (FN) Cable Ventures, Inc.; Tribune Network Holdings Company; Tribune Television Company; Tribune Television Holdings, Inc.; Tribune Television New Orleans, Inc.; Tribune Television Northwest, Inc.; WATL, LLC; WBDC Broadcasting, Inc.; WEWB, L.L.C.; WGN Continental Broadcasting Company; Chicago National League Ball Club, Inc.; Diana-Quentin, Inc.; Tribune California Properties, Inc.; Tribune Interactive, Inc.

Principal Operating Units: Tribune Publishing; Tribune Broadcasting and Entertainment.

Principal Competitors: Gannett Co., Inc.; Hollinger Inc.; The New York Times Company; Knight-Ridder, Inc.; Cox Enterprises, Inc.; The Hearst Corporation; Dow Jones & Company, Inc.; The News Corporation Limited; Daily News, L.P.


  • Key Dates:
  • 1847: James Kelly, John E. Wheeler, and Joseph K.C. Forrest begin publishing the Chicago Daily Tribune newspaper.
  • 1855: Joseph Medill and associates purchase the paper.
  • 1858: The paper is merged with the Democratic Press, forming the Chicago Daily Press and Tribune.
  • 1860: The paper's name returns to the Chicago Daily Tribune.
  • 1861: Tribune Company is incorporated; the paper is renamed the Chicago Tribune.
  • 1874: Medill gains full control of Tribune Co.
  • 1911: The company falls under the control of two grandsons of Medill, Robert R. McCormick and Joseph Medill Patterson.
  • 1919: Patterson launches the New York News (later the Daily News).
  • 1924: The company expands into radio with the launch of the Chicago station WGN.
  • 1925: The company's new headquarters, Tribune Tower, is opened.
  • 1933: The Chicago Tribune-New York News Syndicate is formed and is the forerunner of the Tribune Media Services syndication service.
  • 1948: WGN-TV begins broadcasting in Chicago, and WPIX-TV in New York City.
  • 1963: Tribune acquires the Sun-Sentinel newspaper in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
  • 1965: The Orlando Sentinel newspaper is added to the fold.
  • 1978: WGN-TV becomes a nationwide cable television "superstation."
  • 1981: The company buys the Chicago Cubs baseball team from William Wrigley for $20.5 million; Tribune Broadcasting Company is established.
  • 1982: Tribune Entertainment Company is established.
  • 1983: Tribune Company goes public.
  • 1985: Los Angeles station KTLA-TV is acquired for $510 million.
  • 1991: Following a protracted strike, the company divests the New York Daily News.
  • 1993: CLTV News, Chicago's first 24-hour, local news cable channel, is launched; an educational publisher arm, Tribune Education, begins to be built through acquisitions.
  • 1995: Tribune acquires a 12.5 percent stake in the upstart Warner Bros. (WB) Television Network.
  • 1997: The company acquires Renaissance Communications Corp. and its six television stations for $1.1 billion.
  • 2000: Tribune acquires the Times Mirror Company for $8.3 billion, gaining the Los Angeles Times, Newsday, the Baltimore Sun, and several other newspapers; Tribune Education is sold off, as are three units acquired as part of the Times Mirror deal: Jeppesen Sanderson, Inc., AchieveGlobal, and Times Mirror Magazines.
  • 2002: The company trades two of its Denver radio stations for two television stations in Indiana; Chicago magazine is acquired for $35 million.
  • 2003: Tribune exchanges its last Denver radio station for a television station in Portland, leaving the company with one remaining radio station, WGN-AM in Chicago; a fourth television station, KPLR-TV in St. Louis, is purchased for $200 million; Dennis FitzSimons takes over as president, CEO, and chairman.

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