Despite the thoughts of others that the undeniable downward trend in Tribune Co. stock over the last year means that the Cubs will be put up for sale soon, there's a clue in today's Robert Feder column in the Sun-Times that things could be looking up financially at the Tower:
For the second straight year, the Tribune Co.-owned news/talk station led the market in billing, according to figures compiled by the accounting firm of Miller, Kaplan, Arase & Co.
WGN's overall revenue of $52.4 million gained 7.6 percent from last year, and represented a 10.1 percent share of the market.
This isn't surprising given the nature of the broadcasting business these days. Markets are becoming much more fragmented -- network TV ratings are down, yet billings are up. And it's not that surprising that WGN radio's ratings would have been down last year -- because the market in radio, as in other media, is becoming much more fragmented:
And, I'd say, perhaps in reaction to the Cubs' poor second half, that there was a decline in listenership to baseball games.
Tribune Co. probably overextended itself with the ill-considered purchase of Times Mirror Co. six years ago. While it may not be so easy to unload the troubled Los Angeles Times, I'm sure Tribco would investigate selling that, or other media pieces, long before the high-profile Cubs were put on the market.
We may not like Tribco's ownership -- but frankly, I think Tribco management likes owning the Cubs, and further -- what guarantee would we have that any new owner would be any better?