Media conglomerate Tribune Co plans to pay top managers $16.2 million in bonuses and incentives when it exits bankruptcy under its plan of reorganization, according to court documents.

About $10.3 million of the payments will go to the company's top 20 managers for hitting the top of the company's 2009 cash flow projections, according to documents filed on Monday in the Delaware Bankruptcy Court.

The company, which owns the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times as well as radio and television businesses, also plans to pay $4.6 million to 19 managers that head the company's operating units, based on last year's performance.

Five of those managers are also getting bonus payments under the cash flow-based program.

The company has been operating in bankruptcy since 2008 and has enjoyed a rebound with the stabilizing economy. Only two managers of operating units will not receive a bonus payment for the 2009 performance.

In addition, 70 employees will be eligible to receive up to $65,000 each in a program that is worth a total of $1.3 million.

The company has been battling unions since the middle of last year for the right to activate the bonus and incentive programs.

The unions objected to the plans last year based on what they argued were unreasonably low performance targets, which they described as a lay-up for management.

The unions also criticized the company for basing its management incentives on cash flow, while cutting staff and freezing salaries based on declining revenue.

In total, the bonuses and incentive payments proposed in the reorganization plan are about $5 million less than the company originally proposed.

The plan has to be approved by creditors and the bankruptcy court.

Tribune did not immediately return a call for comment.

The case is In re: Tribune Co et al, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware, No. 08-13141.

(Reporting by Tom Hals; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)