Tribune: 'People Meters' Impacted Revs

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Saying that it was crunched by a soft ad market, the absence of last year’s political spending and the rollout of "Local People Meters," Tribune Co. reports that its TV-station revenue was down during the first quarter.

For the three months ended in March, Tribune stations’ revenues dropped 5.3% to $290 million, while operating cash flow was down 13% to $99 million from the same quarter in 2004.

The company blamed the drop partly on soft sales to automotive, movie and telecom companies. The company also said the second quarter looked no better than the first, although election battles in New York and New Jersey could boost Tribune’s WPIX-TV.

Tribune said it is also being hurt by Nielsen’s introdution of local people meters, which has trimmed the perfomance of Tribune’s stations in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Boston.

Operating expenses for the Broadcast and Entertainment group grew by 5%, 0r 11%, for the quarter. They would have been down had it not been for Sammy Sosa.

Tribune attributed the increase to the $13.5 million in "additional compensation" it had to fork over in the trade of Chicago Cubs slugger Sammy Sosa--it owns the team--to the Orioles.

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