Tribune Media Affirms Earnings Forecast Despite Dish Network Dispute

Tribune Media

UPDATE: Tribune Media CEO Peter Liguori told analysts in a conference call that he’s still negotiating to resolve his company’s dispute with Dish Network, and is “hopeful” it can be resolved “soon.”

But his company only lost $1 million in Q2 from the dispute. “Naturally we don’t like losing any revenue,” he says. “But the situation is manageable.”

PREVIOUS, 5:06 AM: Tribune Media assured Wall Street this morning that it’s on track to hit its financial targets for 2016, but warned that its revenue projections could fall short if it’s unable to “enter into a new contract with Dish Network.”

Tribune’s 42 TV stations and WGN America went dark on Dish on June 12 after the previous carriage deal expired. About 5 million of Dish’s satellite customers have been unable to see Tribune stations, and about 7 million are unable to watch WGNA.

Still, Tribune Media CEO Peter Liguori was upbeat in the company’s Q2 report about the status of the TV stations and production company which in February hired Moelis & Co and Guggenheim Securities, to “explore the full range of strategic and financial alternatives to enhance shareholder value.”

“Gross political advertising revenue is on track to be a record year and to meet our $200 million target,” he says. “Retransmission consent and carriage fee revenues continue to increase, and WGN America is capitalizing on the success of Underground, Outsiders and Salem.”

The company is making “progress” on its strategic review, he adds. As a result “We are confident we can deliver strong Adjusted EBITDA growth in the second half of 2016 and are reaffirming our full-year consolidated financial guidance.”

The report notes, however, that if there’s no deal with Dish then “our retransmission consent and carriage fees and other revenues will be impacted in future periods.”

Tribune ended Q2 reporting a $161.6 million net loss — much of it from $193 million in charges to deal with the resolution of a tax dispute tied to its 2008 sale of Newsday to Cablevision. Revenues increased 4.9% vs. the period last year to $526.1 million. That was short of the $538.7 million that analysts anticipated.

After factoring out the tax charge and other one-time expenses, earnings came in at 42 cents a share, ahead of expectations for 40 cents.

Television and Entertainment revenues increased 5% to $467.1 million with help from a $9.4 million increase in political ad sales, a 19% increase in retransmission consent revenues, and a 41% jump in carriage fees for WGNA. But that was somewhat offset by a 2% drop in core ad sales — not including political.

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