President and CEO of Tribune Media, Peter Liguori will step down. The news was announced by the Chicago-based broadcast company on Wednesday. Liguori, who has spent four years at the helm, will leave in March, after the company’s 2016 fourth quarter and full-year earnings report.
Tribune Media board member and media executive Peter Kern will serve as interim CEO during a search for Liguori’s successor.
“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,” Liguori said in a news release. “I believe that now is the ideal time for a new leader to steer today’s Tribune.”
In January 2013, Liguori was named CEO of Tribune after it emerged from bankruptcy. In December 2013, Tribune closed on its $2.73 billion acquisition of Local TV, adding 19 stations and making it one of the country’s largest television station owners.
In 2014, Tribune spun off its publishing division, including the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times and other major daily newspapers, retaining its broadcast and real estate assets. The spinoff saddled Tribune Publishing, now Tronc, with $275 million in debt to pay a cash dividend to the parent company. The newly streamlined Tribune Media began trading on the New York Stock Exchange in December 2014.
“We gave our newspaper business its independence and a fresh start,” Liguori said in a note to employees Wednesday.
Bruce Karsh, chairman of Tribune Media’s board, said in the news release, “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.”
Liguori, who is a Bronx native and Yale graduate, moved into television more than two decades ago as an advertising executive. He is credited with turning cable channel FX into a programming powerhouse during his ascent to entertainment chief at News Corp.’s Fox Broadcasting. He also served as COO at Discovery Communications, where he helped oversee the launch of the Oprah Winfrey Network, rising to interim CEO in 2011. He left the company when Winfrey made herself CEO of OWN and was working as a New York-based media consultant for private equity firm Carlyle Group when he was selected to lead Tribune.
“It is with a mix of great excitement over what the future holds for me and a sense of melancholy for what I am leaving behind, that I’ll be moving on to the next challenge,” Liguori said in the employee note.