Tribune Sees Settlements with Advertisers in Circ Scandal Nearly Done

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By: The Associated Press & Jennifer Saba

Tribune Co., a Chicago-based newspaper and broadcasting company, said Wednesday it expects that settlements with advertisers at Newsday over circulation misstatements will be essentially finished by the end of the month.

Dennis FitzSimons, Tribune’s chief executive, also said the charges made against several Newsday executives who were arrested last week mirrored the conclusions of an internal investigation.

FitzSimons, speaking to analysts and investors at an annual conference sponsored by the Newspaper Association of America, an industry group, said he expected the settlements with advertisers at Newsday and Hoy, another paper found to have overstated circulation, to be substantially complete by the end of the second quarter, which ends in June.

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From E&P’s Jennifer Saba at the meeting:

* Tribune Publishing President Scott Smith took the podium and first spoke on circulation at large, taking issue with the whole notion of “quality circ.” He feels that circulation that is discounted is valued by advertisers. However, the company is managing down “other paid” circ which includes hotel, newspapers in education and third party copies.

* Analysts and investors pressed Tribune executives about circulation declines in the company’s larger markets, like Los Angeles and Baltimore and ad rates. FitzSimons said that advertisers continue to pay for results and that readership is down only slightly in those markets. Smith confirmed that there is “no pressure on rate roll backs.”

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