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Peter Liguori ’82: Trib divided

Peter Liguori ’82, CEO of the Tribune Company for less than six months, is moving swiftly to remake the once-mighty news chain—but he’s not selling off its newspapers. Yet.

Owner of the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Baltimore Sun, and other daily newspapers, as well as 20-plus TV stations, Tribune drowned itself in debt in a 2007 takeover. In January, the company emerged from a four-year bankruptcy and appointed Liguori—a broadcast executive with Discovery and, before that, Fox—as the new chief.

“I almost look at this company as a 165-year-old start-up,” he said then.

Many observers expected that would mean selling off newspapers and focusing on Tribune’s broadcast side. Liguori did begin talking with potential buyers, including the brothers Charles and David Koch. Last week, Tribune announced a $2.73 billion cash deal to buy 19 stations from Local TV Holdings.

And on July 10, the company said it will split itself into separate publishing and broadcast companies (as Liguori’s former Fox-parent employer, News Corporation, recently did).

That doesn’t mean Tribune plans to remain in the newspaper business. Although a statement from Liguori said the split “will bring single-minded attention to the journalistic standards, advertising partnerships and digital prospects of our iconic newspapers,” his own Chicago Tribune reported that the move “confirms . . . Liguori's vision of shaping the company's future around television.”

New York Times coverage focused on how the division will save Tribune taxes, while the Wall Street Journal bluntly announced: “Tribune’s Split Readies Newspapers for Sale.”

Filed under Peter Liguori, Tribune Company
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