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Tribune Denies $100M Cut Ordered by CEO

Chicago media blogger stands by his report that Peter Liguori demanded $100 million in cuts by Dec. 1

Tribune is denying a blog post claiming that its CEO, Peter Liguori, ordered executives to cut $100 million from its publishing units by Dec. 1.

Tribune spokesman Gary Weitman called the post “grossly inaccurate.”

Weitman told TheWrap that while the Tribune was “trying to determine how to put our publishing businesses on the best possible footing for the long term,” he stressed that it was part of an annual process.

“Everything is on the table, as it is every year,” he said. “This is the normal budget process that we go through annually.”

Also read: Tribune Co. Profit Plunges Sharply on Lower Broadcast Revenue, Print Ads

Asked if Ligouri had told Tribune executives to make $100 million in cuts by Dec. 1, Weitman said: “No. He did not.”

Robert Feder, whose Chicago media blog is licensed by the Chicago Tribune Media Group, told TheWrap he stood by his story: “I stand by my sources who were present at the meeting when the budget goals were announced,” he said. “This is not the first time a Tribune Co. spokesman has questioned my reporting on the company. Once again we’ll see who’s right. I’m confident that my track record speaks for itself.”

Feder’s post also claimed that former Time Inc. CEO Jack Griffin’s consulting company, Empirical Media, had been retained by the Tribune to assist in the cutting process. Empirical did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Also read: Koch Brothers No Longer Interested in Tribune — But Still Interested in ‘Media Business’

The Tribune is currently preparing to spin off its publishing division, which includes newspapers such as the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times, into a separate company.

The Tribune Media company recently spent $2.7 billion to acquire 19 Local Media television stations, but announced in August that its second quarter net income declined by $104.5 million — a staggering 61 percent year-over-year drop the company blamed on both declining newspaper ads and lower broadcast revenue.