Peter Ligouri steps down from Tribune Media

Search for new CEO is underway

Four years after he arrived, Peter Ligouri is heading toward the exit door.

Ligouri told staffers at Tribune Media Wednesday he was leaving his post as CEO of the Chicago-based media group, effective March 1. Ligouri was recently named to Sony Corp.’s board as an advisor, but that’s not the reason why he’s leaving Tribune. Recently, reports have surfaced on Sony possibly selling its TV and film business, which it acquired in 1989 through its acquisition of Columbia Pictures.

Peter Kern is being named interim CEO until a replacement can be found.

Since his arrival in 2013, Ligouri made numerous changes to the then-Tribune Company – for one, spinning off its publishing division becoming Tribune Publishing, which of course became Tronc and now headed by Michael Ferro.

The company he decided to stay on as CEO as – Tribune Media – expanded during his tenure. In 2014, he led the acquisition of Local TV, LLC adding diverse markets to tribune’s portfolio such as Cleveland, Kansas City, and Fort Smith, Ark. He converted WGN-TV’s Superstation to a cable network (WGN America), adding originals such as Salem, Manhattan, and The Outsiders (and dropping all Chicago-related programming including news and sports.) He also brought in Jimmy deCastro to run WGN-AM.

But times have been tough for the last two years. Back in February, Tribune considered putting all or part of the company up for sale. Tribune recently sold its Gracenote music data business to Nielsen for $500 million, and put its real estate holdings up for sale, with the company soon moving from the historic Tribune Tower to a nondescript building on Wacker Drive. WGN America canceled Manhattan and Salem due to low ratings, leaving Outsiders as its only current original on the air. However, the company is developing more original programming for this year.

During his tenure, Ligouri often had a rocky relationship with The CW, whose Tribune was the largest affiliate group. Ligouri criticized the network for underperformance – even as the shows improved in quality and in the ratings. Nevertheless, Tribune renewed its affiliate agreements with The CW last May – but only for five years and without WGN-TV, who reverted back to an independent last September.

Despite being headquartered in Chicago, much of Tribune Media’s operations is located at the company’s KTLA in Los Angeles at the Sunset Bronson Studios.