New CEO named at Tribune, old publisher at Times

latentrance.jpgAs expected, the new board of Tribune today named Peter Liguori as chief executive officer. The company's press release is warm towards the previous CEO, Eddy Hartenstein, who goes back to being just publisher of the Los Angeles Times and head of the paper's media group. Below are the company-wide (and newsroom) memos from Liguori and Hartenstein, and the press release. Plus, if you care to relive the Sam Zell and Tribune saga, the Chicago Tribune has finished its four-part series on what went wrong with the company under Zell and the oddball, frat-boy culture he and his followers brought in for awhile.

Here's Liguori's company-wide note:

From: Peter Liguori
Sent: Thursday, January 17, 2013 3:53 PM
Subject: Hello


Hello,

Today, I accepted the job as CEO of Tribune Company. It is an honor to be given the opportunity to work with all of you and to lead Tribune forward. I am excited about what lies ahead. I am also aware that most of you don't know me. While email isn't the ideal way to introduce myself, please allow me to tell you a bit about why I took this job, what my priorities are and what I expect to accomplish by working together.

Why did I join Tribune? First and foremost, I joined Tribune because this is a place with unparalleled media assets, iconic brands in major markets and very talented, creative employees. Collectively, our digital operations, television outlets and newspapers are the best in the country. Financially, we also have a rock-solid balance sheet, significant liquidity and low debt.

As important as the parts of this company are as businesses, I know that Tribune is more than just a collection of financial assets. They are leading examples of what is best in media, television and journalism in America. We are all tasked to build upon the legacies of excellence, and the long proud heritage of service to the communities where the work you do is crucial. I am profoundly aware of the responsibility we all share and am committed to strengthen those foundations for the listeners, viewers and readers we service.

In short, there's a lot to build on.

That doesn't mean we don't face significant challenges. We do. So does every other media company. Rather than lament the problems, I want us to identify them and solve them, not be defined by them. During my working life, I have always pursued great content as I passionately believe great content always wins out and will drive the value of our media platforms for our audiences, advertisers and businesses affiliates.

To generate great content, we must always focus on our customers—the viewer, the listener, the reader. We have to design products with an outside-in focus and constantly ask, "What does the user want?" With that in mind, we must keep innovating. We must keep developing new products and technology, fresh original content and better services. Innovation is part of Tribune's DNA and we must keep at it.

On the broadcast front, that means airing compelling, original programming and best-in-class local news. We must find efficient ways to create our own fresh programming. On the newspaper side, that means partnering with readers to deliver the content they need and want, wherever they are and whenever they want it. We must accelerate our digital offerings and get paid for them. Across all of our businesses it means more blogging, tweeting and recording to deepen our relationship with our audience. Great content will create value for our audience, advertisers and affiliates.

Over the next several weeks, I intend to meet as many of you as possible and learn as much as I can about what you do and how I can help you do it better. First-hand, I will spend time at our business units, meeting with our local teams, getting to know the communities you serve. Please be candid and direct with me and I promise that I will actively listen to you.

We will then make sound decisions and execute them with full commitment. We need to do this together—you must lead the charge along with me. Tribune is too crucial to the communities and consumers we serve for us to fail. I am passionate about succeeding. I know you are too. Together, we are about to accomplish great things.

Respectfully,
Peter

From: Hartenstein, Eddy
Sent: Thursday, January 17, 2013 4:03 PM
Subject: Our Future


All -

It has been an honor and a privilege to represent you and Tribune Company as Chief Executive Officer these last eighteen months. Despite a difficult economy, a tough advertising environment and our recently completed Chapter 11 process, thanks to your smart, innovative work, our media businesses are in terrific shape. As I have said many times, you are Tribune’s greatest asset—I appreciate everything you’ve done to help us reach this point. Your efforts have positioned Tribune well for success in 2013 and beyond.

Please join me in giving Tribune’s new CEO, Peter Liguori, your full support. Peter’s talent, experience and energy are a perfect match for this company, and I look forward to working with him. As you may know by now, I will remain with Tribune as a member of the Board and a special advisor to the CEO, and as Publisher/CEO of the Los Angeles Times Media Group.

I am optimistic and excited about the future.

Thank you again.

eddy

And the Tribune press 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.”


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