UPDATED: Former Fox Broadcasting Co. and FX executive Matt Cherniss is returning to the TV business and reuniting with his former boss Peter Liguori. Cherniss is joining Tribune Co. as President/General Manager of WGN America and the newly formed Tribune Studios. At superstation WGN, Cherniss replaces Julio Marenghi, who has been named President of Broadcast Media Sales.
Tribune Studios marks Tribune’s official re-entry in the TV production business. The company was a leading producer and distributor of first-run syndication programming in the 1980s and ’90s through its division Tribune Entertainment until it was shut down in 2007. In the past couple of years, Tribune had signaled its interest in re-entering the space. It produces and distributes daytime syndicated program The Bill Cunningham Show and has interest in CBS’ Arsenio Hall late-night talk show and The Test, which will launch on Tribune’s 23 local TV stations in the fall. With Tribune Studios, the company plans to build on and expand what it is doing on Arsenio Hall and The Test by producing and co-producing programming that targets the needs of its stations and the superstation, Tribune CEO Liguori said, noting that “No longer can a media company look at their stations and network as a vehicle to deliver ratings and ad revenue, it’s a much bigger play.” READ MORE »
For anyone remotely curious about what the future holds for Tribune under the leadership of newly appointed CEO Peter Liguori, the company’s KTLA broadcast this interview. Liguori’s impressive resume includes stretches at Fox Broadcasting and Discovery Networks. This being KTLA, the focus was on TV with a passing reference to the company’s dozen newspapers which include the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune. Many observers expect the company to offload the newspapers and concentrate on its broadcast assets. Watch the video after the jump. But beware the infernal autoplay. Read More »
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: Read More »
Former News Corp and Discovery Communications executive Peter Liguori is expected to be appointed CEO of Tribune now that the FCC approved the transfer of TV and radio licenses to the company’s new owners. The 24 licenses were the last … Read More »
The former Fox Broadcasting president and Discovery Communications COO is a “leading candidate” to become Tribune‘s CEO after it emerges from bankruptcy, Reuters says. The wire service, citing two unnamed sources “close to the situation,” says that … Read More »
The former Discovery Communications COO will work with the investment firm’s Telecommunications and Media team, based in New York, Carlyle said this morning. James Attwood, who runs the team, called Liguori “a seasoned executive who … Read More »
It’s a sweet deal, especially when you consider that Discovery shares lost 2.8% of their value in 2011 and three of the company’s four other top execs made less than they did in 2010. Zaslav’s compensation, reported in an SEC filing, consisted of nearly $3M in salary, $20.3M in stock awards, $23.9M … Read More »
Yahoo’s effort to make peace with hedge fund Third Point, the company’s staunchest critic and owner of 5.8% of the voting shares, was a bust. The struggling Internet giant hoped to end Third Point’s planned proxy fight by naming three independent directors — including former Discovery COO and Fox Entertainment exec Peter Liguori — and giving the fund a say in the choice of two other directors. Yahoo says that ”there is value in avoiding the cost and distraction that inevitably accompanies a proxy fight.” But Third Point rejected the plan, saying that it shows “one of Yahoo!’s paramount principles of corporate governance is ‘Shareholders not welcome’.” That leaves the fund with “no choice but to take our case directly to our fellow shareholders…Yahoo!’s shareholders deserve a voice and a choice. We intend to provide them with one at this year’s Annual Meeting.” Third Point’s slate consists of CEO Daniel Loeb, corporate restructuring expert Harry Wilson, media consultant Michael Wolf, and former NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Zucker. Last week Loeb complained that Yahoo had been “dismissive” in its review of his slate. Read More »
Peter Liguori Mulling Exit From Discovery
This is now happening — I have learned that Discovery Communications COO Peter Liguori will be leaving the company after two years. The veteran TV executive is expected to stick around until the end of the year. (He started at Discovery in January 2010.) He will not be replaced. Liguori, who previously ran Fox and FX, is the latest top Discovery Communications executive to exit as the company’s president and CEO David Zaslav now faces three upcoming major departures in his upper ranks; Discovery Channel president Clark Bunting and Discovery Communications CFO Bradley Singer both announced earlier this year that they will leave at the beginning of 2012. Bunting’s announcement came a couple of months after he was made to report to TLC General Manager Eileen O’Neill in an executive restructuring. Despite beating earnings expectations in the just-reported third quarter, Discovery Communications continues to struggle with its joint ventures, especially OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, which sucked up another $12 million investment in 3Q. Liguori was hands-on involved in the January launch of OWN and in May he was named interim CEO of the fledgling cable network following the departure of Christina Norman. Two months later, Winfrey took over the CEO position, and Liguori’s involvement decreased to a point of him having no day-to-day role at the channel. In addition to representing Discovery Communications in its three joint ventures — OWN; The Hub, which also has had a hard time; and 3Net — Liguori’s duties as COO included oversight of Marketing, Discovery Studios, Corporate Communications and Corporate Affairs, Business Affairs, and Media Technology, Production and Operations.
UPDATE 6:15AM: Discovery just put out a release announcing Liguori’s departure:
Silver Spring, Md. – Discovery Communications today announced that Chief Operating Officer Peter Liguori has decided to depart the company at the end of the year. Liguori was responsible for launching numerous creative and brand marketing initiatives around the world, including overseeing the successful launches of Discovery’s joint ventures in The Hub, OWN, and 3net.
President and CEO David Zaslav said, “Pete’s leadership, enthusiasm and creative vision have brought a fresh and important perspective to Discovery.
Read More »
January 19 would mark Peter Liguori’s second year anniversary at Discovery Communications but he may not be there to celebrate it. I have learned that the veteran TV executive is considering leaving Discovery, where he serves as COO, before … Read More »
Oprah Winfrey and Discovery Communications CEO David Zaslav have run out of excuses: With their unofficial relaunch today of OWN, they’ll have no one to blame but themselves if their struggling joint venture fails to show a big improvement in the ratings following a dismal 3Q. In its targeted demo, women 25-54, OWN delivered a rating of .16 — down 16% vs. the same period last year when the channel was still Discovery Health. OWN may have set a deceptively low bar for itself; word is that it cut back on marketing in preparation for the relaunch. Still, the channel is betting everything on Oprah’s star power — and, to a lesser extent, Rosie O’Donnell’s — and that will be put to the test beginning today with the launch of The Rosie Show (7-8 PM) and Oprah’s Lifeclass (8-9 PM). Winfrey’s program, built on clips from her syndicated talk show, begins with one of her classics: for an episode about “ego,” she will include scenes from the show where she illustrated how much weight she lost from a liquid protein diet by wheeling in a wagon filled with 70 pounds of fat. Discovery will air both shows today on TLC, Investigation Discovery, Discovery Fit & Health and Planet Green as well as OWN. The joint venture also is spending more than $10M for marketing, not including free ad time on Discovery-owned networks. The cash is going for ads on hit shows such as The X Factor and Dancing With The Stars, as well as radio and billboards, and websites including Yahoo, Google, People.com, Technorati, and TVGuide.com. Read More »
After staying largely out of the spotlight for the past 3 years, former Lifetime and the WB entertainment president Susanne Daniels has taken on a temporary gig as a consultant for Oprah Winfrey’s OWN cable network. Daniels had been rumored … Read More »
It’s not huge money for a guy who made $4.9 million last year. Still, Discovery Communications provided a nice financial sweetener to help COO Peter Liguori ease into his new gig as interim CEO of OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network. The company … Read More »
OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network will preempt its regular programming from 4-5 PM ET when the finale of The Oprah Winfrey Show will air in most East Coast markets to run a message directing viewers to the finale. The cable channel … Read More »
UPDATE: Don’t put too much cash on the table if you want to bet that former MTV Networks chief Judy McGrath will soon be running OWN following the announcement today that Christina Norman has been ousted from the job. Discovery COO Peter Liguori was told that he’ll be at the network as interim CEO for about a year — at least into 2012. The Oprah Winfrey and Discovery Communications joint venture won’t even begin to look for a replacement until this fall, we’re told. Winfrey and Discovery CEO David Zaslav want to wait until Oprah is done with her syndicated talk show — and give Liguori time to straighten out what everyone now acknowledges has been a mess. Winfrey and Zaslav lost confidence in Norman around the end of March. They were tired of making excuses for OWN’s ratings, which nosedived after the channel made its debut in January. They also lacked faith in the development slate Norman had put together. Winfrey suggested calling in Liguori, the former chief of Fox Broadcasting who had been associated with hits including American Idol, 24, and Glee. After Zaslav agreed, they decided to sit on the decision. They didn’t want to mar Discovery’s April 14th upfront presentation to advertisers and media.
But the timing of the announcement today, one day after McGrath said that she’s leaving her long time perch as head of Viacom’s MTV Networks, seemed too neat to be a coincidence. Insiders say that nothing’s in the works to bring Judy to OWN. But they acknowledge that Discovery’s plans could change in a heartbeat: Liguori didn’t sign a new contract to take charge of OWN. And McGrath is considered a prime candidate. She’s one of cable’s most highly regarded creative executives. She’s also a close ally of former Viacom CEO Tom Freston, a consultant at OWN who’s up there with Winfrey and Zaslav in deciding what direction the channel should take. Actually, McGrath’s close ties to Freston are one of many reasons why Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman pushed her aside. He became Viacom’s CEO in 2006 after Chairman Sumner Redstone fired Freston. Still, McGrath isn’t a shoo-in. She lives in New York, and the OWN partners want the operation to be in Los Angeles. She also may not want a job that would require her to share so much power with Winfrey and Zaslav. Some executives say it may be impossible for anyone to create order at the channel while reporting to two high-powered bosses who see OWN as the venture that could define their careers.
PREVIOUS: After a little over than two years on the job, Christina Norman is leaving as CEO of OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network. Peter Liguori, COO of Discovery Communications, who has been hands-on involved in the fledgling network, a co-venture between Discovery and Winfrey’s Harpo, will serve as interim CEO while continuing in his Discovery role. Discovery and Harpo had been quietly searching for a replacement for Norman for the past couple of months, with CBS syndication executive Terry Wood rumored for the job at one point. Then speculation heated up yesterday that Judy McGrath, who stepped down as chairman and CEO of MTV Networks, may be a prime contender. She was originally approached for the top OWN job in 2008. Word is that no decision will be made for a few months and that the new person may jointly oversee OWN with Liguori. After a solid launch in January, OWN has failed to generate strong ratings and has been trending just above its predecessor Discovery Health, something Winfrey and Discovery Communications president and CEO David Zaslav have been reportedly unhappy about.
UPDATE: Here is the release announcing the change: Read More »
Former Fox executive Lee Bartlett, who ran ITV’s production arm for the past 2 years until recently stepping down, is back in the U.S., joining Discovery Communications as EVP global production management, business and legal affairs. He will report to COO Peter Liguori, reuniting with his former boss. Bartlett … Read More »