BUSINESS: Tribune Co Files for Bankruptcy Protection
Numerous media sources including NBC, Fox, and the AP are reporting that media giant
Tribune Co. has filed for bankruptcy protection, pressured by high debts. Tribune is one of the largest media conglomerates in the world, and counts the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune newspapers among others, superstation WGN, and the Chicago Cubs baseball team and its home, Wrigley Field, among it's assets.
The Associated Press article reports that The Wall Street Journal, in turn quoting people familiar with the matter, had speculated a bankruptcy filing could come as early as this week, saying that Tribune Co.'s cash flow may not be enough to cover nearly $1 billion in interest payments that are due this year. Tribune had been taken private last December in an $8.2 billion buyout led by real estate mogul Sam Zell.
It is too soon to see how this will affect the broadcast media outlets owned by the company, though it is bound to have some impact. In addition to WGN America, the company's Tribune Entertainment has produced a number of television hits over the years, the biggest of which in recent years was the drama "Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda", starring Kevin Sorbo. They also are producers of the current version of game show Family Feud and the animated hit South Park.The parent company also own a stake in Comcast SportsNet, and a number of websites, including a partial stake in both Careerbuilder.com and entertainment news site Zap2It.com.
It is also clear that Tribune wants to restructure the debt they have incurred by going private last year, and are not filing for liquidation. Even so, in order for Tribune to stay afloat, it's very likely they'll have to divest themselves of a number of holdings, which could include television stations in 6 of the top ten tv markets, as well as more than a dozen newspapers.
We'll keep on this story over the days ahead, and let you know what's going on, because if for some reason – like the very shaky economy – the company is for some reason unable to restructure its' debt, a collapse with such massive debt owed could be catastrophic in a number of entertainment areas and could trigger a chain reaction among other media companies who are on the brink of a financial crisis….