Tribune Co. confirms: ‘Everything is on the table’

Peter Liguori

Peter Liguori

Plans to cut costs and reduce staff at Tribune Co. newspapers have been confirmed as the parent company of the Chicago Tribune prepares to spin off the publishing side of the business into a separate entity.

A report here Thursday said Tribune Co. CEO Peter Liguori ordered executives to come up with $100 million in budget cuts at its eight daily newspapers. Slated to begin taking effect Dec. 1, the cuts are expected to affect all areas of operation, including the newsrooms, sources said.

A Tribune Co. spokesman confirmed to the Los Angeles Times that the company has started a budget review process and that newspaper managers have been asked to look for efficiencies.

In addition to the Chicago Tribune, the company’s dailies include the Los Angeles Times, the Baltimore Sun, the South Florida Sun Sentinel, the Orlando Sentinel, the Hartford Courant, the Morning Call and Daily Press.

“We’re in the process, as we are every year at this time, of looking at the budgets for all of our businesses,” spokesman Gary Weitman told the Times late Thursday. “Everything is on the table. We’re looking at how to put our publishing businesses on the best possible footing for the long term.”

Weitman disputed the $100 million figure reported here, saying: “No targets for expense reduction have been issued.” But sources who were at Liguori’s meeting Wednesday with executives of Tribune Co. publishing units verified that he ordered them to identify $100 million in budget cuts.

Liguori announced plans in July to spin off the newspapers and focus the company solely on its more profitable broadcasting and Internet properties.