Tribune Media CEO Peter Liguori to Step Down

Tribune Media CEO Peter Liguori GETTY - H 2016
Jeff Vespa/WireImage

"Now is the ideal time for a new leader to steer today’s Tribune," he says. Meanwhile, Sony announced he will take a role advising Sony Corp.'s board of directors.

Tribune Media said Wednesday that Peter Liguori, the company’s president and CEO since January 2013, has decided to step down following the company’s fourth-quarter and full-year 2016 earnings report, expected during the first week of March.

Liguori, a former top executive at Discovery Communications and News Corp. where he served as entertainment head at Fox and FX, will also resign from the company’s board of directors. Tribune Media’s board will conduct a search with Korn Ferry to identify a new CEO.

Meanwhile, Sony Corp. announced that Liguori will take on a role advising the Japanese company's board of directors. The company is also in the midst of finding a replacement for Sony Pictures Entertainment chief Michael Lynton, who announced recently that he was stepping down in six months to take on a more hands-on role as chairman of Snap. It was not known if Liguori would be in the running for Lynton's job.

The company's board has chosen one of its current directors, Peter Kern, to serve as the interim CEO during the search process. It said Kern, who serves as chairman of Hemisphere Media Group and managing partner of media-focused private equity firm InterMedia Partners, has more than 25 years of experience as an executive, investor and mergers and acquisitions adviser in the media industry. 

“I believe that now is the ideal time for a new leader to steer today’s Tribune," Liguori said. "As curious and excited as I am about pursuing new opportunities, I am equally grateful for the achievements, commitment and integrity of this company’s management team and its dedicated employees."

He also said: "Following the successful completion of several financial, strategic and creative initiatives, culminating in the pending sale of Gracenote, Tribune Media is well advanced in its transformation to a more focused broadcast and cable networks company."

In a note to staff, he wrote: "Thanks to your collective efforts, the Tribune Media of today is a streamlined broadcast company, more sharply focused than ever before and poised to seize the right opportunities in the constantly evolving media landscape. Clearly, my work here is done. I am at peace with my decision and excited to see a new CEO lead the company to its best future."

Bruce Karsh, chairman of Tribune Media, said: "We greatly appreciate Peter's leadership in the transformation of Tribune Media over the last four years, including the efforts to monetize non-core assets and simplify the company. It became clear to Peter and the board that in this last year of his contract it was time to find a new CEO to run the more broadcast-centric company."

Over the past four years, Liguori led the restructuring and transformation of Tribune Media. In 2013, the company acquired Local TV for $2.7 billion, which added 19 local TV stations, bringing the total company station portfolio to 42. In 2014, the company spun off its newspaper division to shareholders. He also oversaw strategic investments in WGN America, including in original programming.

Last February, Tribune Media unveiled a process to review its strategic and financial alternatives. That led to the sale of real estate assets for more than $500 million and the recently announced sale of the company's Gracenote metadata business to Nielsen for approximately $560 million.