Fire Causes Many Papers to Scramble for Weekend Listings

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An electrical fire broke out in an office building where Tribune Media Services creates TV and movie listings for newspapers.

TMS vice president for entertainment products Jay Fehnel said Thursday “many of our clients won’t notice any impact from the fire,” but said products for some newspaper customers may be delayed. He said it was too early to determine how long any delays would be.

The Wednesday night fire at the 11-story CNA Building was confined to a 10th floor electrical room, but fire officials said it would force the building to close for an undetermined period for electrical repairs. The cause of the fire had not been determined.

The computer facilities at the building were back to full production by 3:20 p.m. Thursday, Fehnel said. The computer systems are operable remotely and a handful of employees were allowed back into the building Thursday, he said.

None of the tenants’ offices suffered damage, according the owners of the building in this small city on the southern edge of the Adirondack Mountains.

Tribune Media Services employs 180 in the building and produces television listings and movie showtime products there. On Thursday, the company was moving workers to a second TMS office in the area.

Chicago-based Tribune Media Services provides information and entertainment products for print, electronic and on-air media in the United States and abroad under the TMS and Zap2it brands. It is a subsidiary of Tribune Company.

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The New York Times reports Friday:

“Newspapers nationwide were forced to improvise yesterday to produce one of their staples ? the daily television listings ? after a fire on Wednesday night crippled the principal source of those listings, a subsidiary of the Tribune Company based in upstate New York…

“Early last night, the number of newspapers affected and the extent of the disruption in newsrooms was unclear, according to Jay Fehnel, the vice president for entertainment products at Tribune Media Services. Mr. Fehnel said the computers disabled by the fire were brought back online by 3 p.m., and the company would work through the night to send listings to its clients.

“Tribune Media Services provides its lists to most of the nation?s daily newspapers, Mr. Fehnel said, but he declined to say how many. The company has dominated the newspaper listings business since acquiring its only competitor, TV Data Technologies in 2000.

“The difficulties yesterday were reduced for some papers that publish advance television listings for the week on Sunday; those papers were able to use the Friday portion from those weekly listings for today?s editions….

“At The New York Times, editors used listing information from Tribune?s Web site to construct the listings for today?s editions. In a note to readers today, The Times said its TV listings for Friday would be incomplete because of technical difficulties at Tribune Media Services, but did not mention the fire.”


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