"The decision to explore the sale of our broadcast stations is a result of our ongoing analysis of our business portfolio," Janet L. Robinson, president-CEO, said in a statement. "We believe a divestiture would allow us to sharpen our focus on developing our newspaper and rapidly growing digital businesses and the synergies before them, thereby increasing the value of our company for our shareholders."
The broadcast-media group comprises nine stations in markets such as Des Moines, Iowa, and Scranton, Pa., that are affiliates of CBS, ABC, NBC and, in one case, MyNetworkTV. The Times Co. bought one of them, KAUT-TV in Oklahoma City, just last fall to complement its KFOR-TV, also in Oklahoma City.
But the company has also spent some 18 months cutting costs, building or buying new revenue sources, and expanding its presence in digital media. The move to sell the stations comes, too, as the Federal Communications Commission moves to reconsider media ownership rules that currently limit acquisitions.
The group contributed about 4% of last year's $3.2 billion in total revenue, the company said. This year, the Times Co. expects the stations to generate $150 million in revenue and $33 million in operating profit; it has not provided a forecast for the entire company's 2006 results.