Judge Kevin Carey authorized the company, which owns the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun and other dailies, to pay $74 million that was owed to employees before Monday's bankruptcy petition was filed. That total includes an individual cap of $10,950 but excludes payments for health care, long-term disability, reimbursable expenses, workers compensation and retiree medical care.
The judge also authorized the debtors to make payments for a variety of other pre-petition obligations, including some $20 million to critical vendors, $18 million in tax, licensing and similar obligations, and $5.5 million to shippers.
James Conlan, an attorney representing the company, said it was forced to seek bankruptcy protection because of dwindling advertising revenues, which he said reflect both broader economic issues and a change in the way advertising works.
Tribune is the first major newspaper publisher to file for bankruptcy protection since the Internet plunged the industry into a struggle for survival.