Tribune Company announced plans Wednesday to spin off its newspaper division, which includes the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune, separating the struggling unit from its growing television station holdings.
The plan "is designed to maximize shareholder value" and "position the company for long-term growth," said a statement from the Chicago-based media firm, which emerged from bankruptcy December 31 after four years of court supervision.
The group, which owns 23 television stations and last week announced a $2.7 billion deal to buy 19 more local television stations, said splitting into two distinct companies would give each "greater financial and operational focus."
"Moving to separate our publishing and broadcasting assets into two distinct companies will bring single-minded attention to the journalistic standards, advertising partnerships and digital prospects of our iconic newspapers, while also enabling us to take advantage of the operational and strategic opportunities created by the significant scale we are building in broadcasting," said Peter Liguori, Tribune's president and chief executive.
"In addition, the separation is designed to allow each company to maximize its flexibility and competitiveness in a rapidly changing media environment."
Since its emergence from bankruptcy, a number of reports have said Tribune Co. was preparing to sell off many of its assets, starting with the newspapers.
Although no official bids have been announced, the mere hint of interest from billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch -- famous for bankrolling conservative causes -- has some activists in a frenzy. Protests have been held in Los Angeles and other cities.
Rupert Murdoch's media group -- which also recently split off its publishing and entertainment assets into two firms -- has been among those likely to be interested in the big dailies.