When I wrote about Tribune in the most recent issue of BusinessWeek, one of the things I was unable to fit in the column—I swear!—and intended to address in this subsequent blog entry (but didn’t) was one other key management miscalculation Tribune made when it bought Times Mirror.
Tribune assumed that the FCC would lift a ban on newspapers owning broadcast stations in the same market. Therefore, one imagines, once the ban was lifted, Tribune could start pairing broadcast stations with its newspapers in the same markets (the FCC allowed Tribune to hold onto such broadcast-newspaper “duopolies” via waivers and other legal instrumentation) and, voila, one plus one equals three and a thousand synergy-flowers bloom.
Wrong and wrong, it turns out. Wrong on the FCC lifting the ban, and wrong on the synergies.
But never mind that, because now some people more significant to Tribune are weighing in on this. Now the Chandler family that once owned Times Mirror, and who now own 12% of Tribune, is now saying outright that Tribune’s strategy has failed and they want the company broken up.