This falls into the “as expected” category. We’ve known since November that Tribune was planning to offer the top job to Peter Liguori, who’s best known for his years as an executive at Fox and Discovery. Now that Tribune has emerged from bankruptcy protection, it’s widely believed that the company will focus on its broadcast properties which include 23 television stations as it tries to unload its fleet of newspapers which include the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Baltimore Sun and the Hartford Courant. Tribune Chairman Bruce Karsh, the co-founder of Oaktree Capital Management — a major stakeholder in the media company — calls Liguori “the ideal choice to be Tribune’s next Chief Executive Officer. He has the talent and experience to lead the company forward, and has a track record of success.” In a memo to staffers, Liguori said that he wants the broadcast properties to air “compelling, original programming and best-in-class local news.” And newspapers must provide readers with “the content they need and want, wherever they are and whenever they want it.” He looks to “accelerate our digital offerings and get paid for them” urging employees to do “more blogging, tweeting and recording to deepen our relationship with our audience.” He plans to meet with employees and urged them to “Please be candid and direct with me and I promise that I will actively listen to you….I am passionate about succeeding. I know you are too.”
Eddy Hartenstein had run the LA Times before May 2011 when he was picked to run Tribune as it struggled with its bankruptcy problems. The former DirecTV chief says he is “pleased that the Chapter 11 process is complete and we can all turn our full attention to growing our business and making this company as successful as possible.”
Here’s today’s release:
CHICAGO, Jan. 17, 2013—Tribune Company today announced that its Board of Directors has elected Bruce Karsh as Chairman of the Board and Peter Liguori as Chief Executive Officer. The appointments are effective immediately. The company also announced that former Chief Executive Officer Eddy Hartenstein will continue to serve as Publisher of the Los Angeles Times and CEO of the Los Angeles Times Media Group, and will act as special advisor to the Office of the CEO.
“The Board is very optimistic about Tribune’s future,” said Karsh. “The company is well positioned across its markets and now has a strong balance sheet, significant liquidity and low debt, so there is a lot of opportunity ahead.”
Since 1995, Karsh has served as President and co-founder of Oaktree Capital Management, L.P., formerly Oaktree Capital Management, LLC, a Los Angeles-based investment management firm. Prior to co-founding Oaktree, Karsh was a Managing Director of the TCW Group and the portfolio manager of its Special Credits Funds for seven years.
“Peter is the ideal choice to be Tribune’s next Chief Executive Officer,” said Karsh. “He has the talent and experience to lead the company forward, and has a track record of success. The Board has every confidence in him.”
Liguori most recently served as Chief Operating Officer of Discovery Communications. Before joining Discovery in 2009, he served as Chairman of Entertainment for the Fox Broadcasting Company. Prior to assuming that position in 2005, Liguori was president and CEO of News Corp.’s FX Networks since 1998.
“Tribune is a great company with an incredible collection of media assets, iconic brands in major markets across the country, tremendous journalism, and very talented people,” said Liguori. “Collectively, the company’s digital operations, broadcast outlets and newspapers are some of the best in the country. In many ways, Tribune is like a 165-year old start-up—there is a lot to build upon.”
Liguori and the Board of Directors also thanked Hartenstein for his leadership of the company during its recently completed Chapter 11 process. “Tribune was fortunate to have Eddy guiding it through bankruptcy—his commitment to keeping operations on track, the businesses focused and employees energized, was exactly what the company needed,” said Karsh. “I am very pleased that Eddy will be staying with Tribune and The Times.”
Hartenstein said, “I’m pleased that the Chapter 11 process is complete and we can all turn our full attention to growing our business and making this company as successful as possible.”