Bloomberg News

Tribune Agrees to Sell Hoy New York Spanish Newspaper

February 12, 2007

Tribune Co., the second-largest U.S. newspaper publisher, retreated from its efforts to build up its Spanish-language business, agreeing to sell Hoy New York to ImpreMedia LLC, owner of rival El Diario La Prensa.

Tribune is shedding Hoy six years after buying the publication and then expanding in Los Angeles and Chicago. The sale doesn't include those newspapers, Chicago-based Tribune said today in a statement. Terms weren't disclosed.

The sale of Hoy marks a retrenchment of Tribune's Spanish- language ambitions after a circulation scandal and the company's failure to crack an alliance of well-established rivals. The pool of national advertisers is limited to spending $250 million annually on marketing, said Marcos Baer, publisher of Portada- Online.com in New York, which tracks Spanish-language media.

``It's very difficult to have competing English dailies in the same city,'' Baer said in an interview. ``In the Spanish market it's even more difficult.''

Shares of Tribune fell 20 cents to $30.29 at 4 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading (TRB:US). They've fallen 1 percent in the past 12 months.

Tribune's Spanish-language expansion stumbled in 2004 when the U.S. Audit Bureau of Circulations found that circulation numbers had been inflated. The company in May settled an investigation by U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission over the matter and earmarked $90 million to reimburse advertisers.

Tribune said Javier J. Aldape, acting Hoy publisher, will become general manager and editor of Hoy's Los Angeles newspaper and oversee shared editorial content between the Los Angeles and Chicago editions.

Back-office operations of Hoy's Los Angeles and Chicago editions will be integrated with those of the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune, the company said. Newsroom staff at the English and Spanish-language publications will remain separate, Tribune spokesman Gary Weitman said.

``They are pruning the tree, snipping off a branch,'' Benchmark Co. analyst Edward J. Atorino said in an interview. ``I doubt they'll get a lot of money for it.''

Soon after Tribune started the Los Angeles and Chicago editions, rivals ImpreMedia in New York and La Opinion in Los Angeles agreed to share advertising and resources.

Hoy New York is free Monday-Friday with a circulation of 56,207, according to ImpreMedia, which plans to continue publishing the paper.

New York's El Diario La Prensa, the oldest U.S. Spanish- language newspaper has an audited daily paid circulation of 50,105, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andy Fixmer in Los Angeles at afixmer@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Emma Moody at emoody@bloomberg.net.


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