August 9, 2017 / 11:43 AM / 2 months ago

Tribune Media's profit misses as programming costs rise

The Tribune Tower in Chicago, April 2, 2007. REUTERS/John Gress

(Reuters) - U.S. broadcaster Tribune Media Co (TRCO.N), which agreed to be bought by Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc (SBGI.O), reported a lower-than-expected quarterly profit, hurt by higher programming costs.

Total programming costs rose 27.9 percent to $157.1 million in the second quarter ended June 30.

The media company has been pushed to rethink its business strategy due to higher programming costs and a challenging advertising environment as most advertisers shift to digital platforms.

In November, Tribune hired investment banks Moelis & Co (MC.N) and Guggenheim Securities as financial advisers to work on a strategic review of its assets.

The broadcaster subsequently sold off its digital data unit, Gracenote, to advertising tracking company, Nielsen Holdings Plc (NLSN.N), for $560 million in December.

In May, Sinclair Broadcast offered to buy Tribune in a $3.9 billion deal, following a U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) vote to reverse a 2016 decision that limited the number of television stations some broadcasters can buy.

The deal, however, has been opposed by conservative media, trade and liberal advocacy groups, who filed petitions with the FCC saying it will raise prices while narrowing content and news viewing choices for millions of Americans.

On Tuesday, satellite television provider Dish Network Corp (DISH.O) also joined hands with the opposing forces.

Sinclair already owns 173 U.S. television stations while Tribune owns 42 TV stations in 33 U.S. markets.

Tribune said on Wednesday revenue from the television and entertainment division, which includes its broadcasting, radio and studio businesses, fell marginally to $466.1 million.

The company’s net loss narrowed to $30.4 million, or 35 cents per share, in the second quarter, from $161.6 million, or $1.76 per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, the company earned 36 cents per share, missing analysts’ estimate of 41 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Total operating revenue fell 2.1 percent to $469.5 million, above analysts average estimate of $375.1 million.

Reporting by Laharee Chatterjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur

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