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Company News: FCC approves buyout of Tribune Co.

Sat., Dec. 1, 2007

The Federal Communications Commission approved the $8.2 billion buyout of the Tribune Co. by a 3-2 vote Friday, a move that will allow the deal to close by the end of the year.

In approving the deal, the agency granted Tribune Co. a temporary waiver on rules barring ownership of both a newspaper and a broadcast station in the same city in four markets and a permanent waiver for the city of Chicago.

Tribune Co. is owner of the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, nine other dailies and 23 television stations. The buyout is being led by real estate billionaire Sam Zell and will result in the publicly traded company becoming private.

The three Republican commissioners voted in favor of the sale while Democrats Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein were opposed.

The company owns both newspapers and broadcast stations in five markets: New York City, Chicago, Miami-Fort Lauderdale, Los Angeles and Hartford, Conn. It needed the waivers before it could complete the sale.

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin has proposed a permanent rule that would allow one company to own a newspaper and a broadcast station in any of the 20 largest markets. The full commission is set to vote on the proposal by Dec. 18. While Martin’s plan would grant Tribune some relief, it still would have pushed the closing date for the sale into next year, which the company has said would jeopardize financing for the deal.

AOL on Friday scrapped its year-old pay-for-download service in favor of Web retailer Inc.‘s technology for selling movies and TV shows online.

Financial terms of the deal were not available, but Amazon said it will share revenue with AOL.

“It’s really about focus,” said Fred McIntyre, senior vice president of AOL Video, which is owned by Time Warner Inc. “AOL, as a company, is in the process of shifting our focus for our primary business and everything we do towards an advertising business.”

Jewelry and luxury goods retailer Tiffany & Co.’s third-quarter earnings more than tripled on strong sales growth and a hefty gain on the sale and leaseback of its Tokyo flagship store.

It also boosted its earnings outlook for the full year. However, the company’s shares closed down 5 percent, or $2.32, to $46.43, after a morning rally, as analysts expressed caution that its Manhattan flagship store has become a temporarily disproportionate driver of sales, helped by a flood of foreign tourists who are taking advantage of the declining dollar.

The New York-based retailer said Friday that net income climbed to $98.9 million, or 71 cents per share, in the three months ended Oct. 31 from $29.1 million, or 21 cents per share, a year ago.

Excluding a gain of 48 cents per share on the sale-leaseback of the company’s Tokyo flagship store, the retailer earned 23 cents per share in the latest period.


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