Newsday reportedly courting buyers

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Sam Zell, CEO of Tribune Co., is reportedly considering buyout offers for daily title Newsday.

In its earnings report, released last week, Tribune Co. posted a $78 million loss from continuing operations for the fourth quarter of 2007. The company reported income from continuing operations of $233 million the previous year. Operating revenues for the same period were down 12% this year, to $1.27 billion.

The company also saw circulation revenues drop 12% for the fourth quarter. Total net paid circulation for Tribune's nine metro newspapers averaged 2.7 million copies Monday through Friday, a decrease of 2% from last year. (http://www.tribune.com/pressroom/releases/2008/03202008.html)

When the report was released, Zell said in a statement, “We have begun a strategic review of certain Tribune assets to determine whether capital can be more effectively redeployed into our core operations or toward reducing our outstanding leverage." Tribune Co. could not be reached for comment as of press time.

News Corp.'s Rupert Murdoch, publisher and real estate developer Mortimer B. Zuckerman, and Cablevision's James L. Dolan are all said to be interested in acquiring the Long Island, NY-based Newsday. A Cablevision spokesperson declined to comment, as did a Daily News representative. News Corp. could not be reached.

Newsday's total average paid Sunday circulation as of September 30, 2007 is 454,194, per the ABC. Its combined Monday-Friday total average is 387,503.

Each of the possible Newsday suitors has a different stake in its acquisition. Murdoch, who owns morning tabloid the New York Post, could lower the costs of publishing the Post by leveraging Newsday's nearby production and advertising resources. Murdoch was also rumored to be bidding on the entire Tribune Company when it went up for sale last year.

Zuckerman, who owns Post rival the Daily News may be looking for similar benefits — or may just be interested in keeping the Post and Newsday separate.

Cablevision would be extending its media holdings to print for the first time if it won a Newsday bidding war. The company's current portfolio includes digital television, voice and high-speed Internet services, the Madison Square Garden arena and its tenant professional sports teams (the NHL's New York Rangers, the NBA's New York Knicks and the WNBA's New York Liberty) and national and regional programming networks.

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