The Tribune Co., the Chicago publishing giant, said today that it wants to sell The New York Daily News, a newspaper that has long served as a model for other tabloids with its catchy headlines and flashy pictures.
The Daily News still has the largest circulation of any general circulation daily newspaper in the United States, but it has been losing money steadily recently as more and more readers turned to television and suburban newspapers in the New York area.
The Tribune Co. said it has hired the investment banking firm Salomon Brothers Inc. to find a buyer for the Daily News, which is published in the morning. A spokesman for the Tribune Co. said there is no buyer in the wings.
There was no indication of what price was being asked.
John Morton, a newspaper industry analyst with the Wall Street firm of Lynch, Jones & Ryan, said today he doubted if another newspaper company would buy the Daily News. "It's conceivable there might be some oil company or someone like that," he said.
Morton said that if no buyer was found within a matter of weeks he thought the Tribune Co. would simply shut down the paper. "I don't think it can be turned around, and I think that's the conclusion they have come to," he said. "I think the Tribune has decided the Daily News has no future and that's why they're putting it up for sale."
Stanton R. Cook, president and chief executive officer of the Tribune Co., said the publishing company has had offers for the News in the past and has turned them down. But he said the Tribune Co. does not have the capital resources to sink into the News. The company said that its earnings have been hurt by the losses at the News.
In the past, there has been speculation that New York Post Publisher Rupert Murdoch might be interested in buying the Daily News, but Murdoch has repeatedly denied any interest. Murdoch was not available for comment today.
In August, after the News closed down its disastrous venture into the afternoon market, Publisher Robert M. Hunt predicted that the newspaper would lose $11 million this year, after it took severe cost-cutting measures such as laying off 10 percent of its staff, freezing some salaries and cutting executive pay 10 percent.
The Tribune Co. also publishes The Chicago Tribune, that city's biggest newspaper, and owns television stations and the Chicago Cubs baseball team, among other things. The Chicago Tribune has had profit problems too. However, stringent cost-cutting measures have resulted in improved profits at the newspaper in the third quarter.
The Tribune's decision to sell the Daily News comes as the paper reports an increase in circulation for the first time in years. The News says its circulation now is about 1.5 million a day, compared with about 1.35 million six months ago.