Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Teamster News

For Immediate Release Contact:
December 12, 2007 Galen Munroe, (202) 624-6904

Teamsters File Request for Reconsideration

(Washington, D.C.) – Today the International Brotherhood of Teamsters sought reconsideration of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) decision granting the Tribune Company’s [NYSE: TRB] transfer of ownership request and its associated requests for waiver of the Commission’s newspaper/broadcast cross ownership rules.

The deal involves transferring 100% ownership of the Company to employees through an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) but provides employee owners no role in the governance of either the ESOP or the operating company. Instead, real estate entrepreneur Sam Zell, who will not have an ownership interest, along with his handpicked Board of Directors and ESOP trustee, will control the company including its fourteen newspapers, twenty-three television stations and one radio station.

"Apparently the FCC was tuned out during its public listening tour," said James P. Hoffa, General President of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. "In its rush to judgment, the Commission has failed to enforce its current rules or protect the public interest."
The Teamsters, which represents 2,000 Tribune employees, raised concerns with the FCC about the buyout structure of the Tribune Company. The Teamsters believe the structure violates the FCC’s requirement (Section 310-D of the Communications Act) that stations be controlled by their owners, and not by Sam Zell, a trust established for the benefit of members of his family, and a pre-selected ESOP trustee. This third party ownership violates the FCC’s requirement that stations be controlled by their owners, and undermines the public interest and the FCC’s mission of promoting localism and diversity.

In oral testimony at the Commission’s October 31st public hearing--the last of a series by the
agency to consider the impact of broadcast cross ownership rules on localism--the Teamsters alerted the Commission to violations the deal posed. The testimony, a summary of which also was filed in the Tribune proceeding, reads in part:

"This separation of ownership and management is unprecedented and would set a new, and very low, standard for compliance with the Communication Act’s public interest requirements, which are the basis for the localism and diversity principles in broadcasting," said George Tedeschi, International Vice President of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and employee of the Tribune’s New York Newsday.

Founded in 1905, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States and Canada.

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