Sunday, June 04, 2006

LAT Reduces Quality of Product Again, Downsizing TV Times

The New York Times had a column in its business section last week about how many of the nation's CEOs don't care about how their companies' stock is doing, and how the shareholders are faring, so much as they care about their own salaries. They continue to raise their salaries out of sight while they downsize their companies, cheapen their product, and sometimes even layoff many of their people. It is due to simple greed.

Dennis FitzSimons is doing all of these things at the Tribune Co. He raises his own salary while laying off workers and reducing the quality of Tribune newspapers, while seeing the stock price fall way down.

It is within this context that we see this morning the latest downsizing of the L.A. Times, which the hapless loser, the Tribune Co., purchased six years ago.

Now, it's the turn, for the second time, of TV Times, which is no longer including movie listings, late night highlights or cable conversion charts, and is not even the same size, having been made smaller.

Sherry Stern made the announcement, but, under the Yamashita principal developed for war crimes in World War II, which held that senior commanders are responsible for what happens in their commands, even if they didn't know about it, FitzSimons and other Tribune Co. executives are responsible. FitzSimons may not be as handsome as Yamashita was, with his colorful Japanese military decorations, but like Yamashita, he sets the tone, and subservient underlings scurry around to please him.

We can't say for sure that FitzSimons gave the exact order to make TV Times a poorer product, but the tone he has set for the company makes him just as responsible as a jury recently found Ken Lay was for the ruination of his company, Enron, despite his claim he knew nothing.

Lay is headed for jail, but I imagine FitzSimons is enjoying swank lodgings in one of Chicago's finest neighborhoods.

This man, like many selfish CEOs, should retire, undoubtedly with a golden parachute, and get out of all our lives. But the L.A. Times should be sold to local investors first.

Meanwhile, what to do with FitzSimons? The L.A. Times gave me an idea this morning with its picture on A5 of a 700-pound alligator trussed up in Florida and ready to be shipped away from threatening people by a fellow named Todd Hardwick. Too bad, this gentleman can't work in Illinois.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You trying to tell us that the CEO of a multi-billion dollar company with over 25 different business units takes time to dictate that the crappy TV Times (which no one under 50 reads) be trimmed a few inches? What next Ken? Will FitzSimons be picking out the recipes for the food section? Face it, Tribune sets the profit goals, but the Times managers execute the plan, decides who gets laid off, how expenses are cut, etc. That's the way the business works.

6/04/2006 8:08 PM  
Blogger Kanani said...

Have you read Warren Buffett's annual reports? He goes into great detail about CEO salaries in his 2005annual report:

"Too often, executive compensation in the US is ridiculously out of line with performance. That won't change, moreover because the deck is stacked against investors when it comes to the CEO's pay. The upshot is that a mediocre or worse CEO --aided by his handpicked VP of human relations and a consultant from the ever-accomodating firm of Ratchet, Ratchet and Bingo--all too often receives gobs of money from an ill-designed compensation arrangement."
You can find it here at Berkshire Hathaway

6/09/2006 8:28 AM  
Blogger Kanani said...

Errgghhh.... sorry that link doesn't work.....
just type in:

Then download the annual reports.

6/09/2006 8:32 AM  

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