Monday, May 3, 2010

Ed Wilson exits as Tribune Broadcasting chief, plus other news

Ed Wilson, chief revenue officer for Chicago Tribune parent Tribune Co. and president of its broadcasting division, announced Friday he is giving up those titles and becoming a consultant to the media concern.

The exit leaves Jerry Kersting, who was named chief operating officer of Tribune Broadcasting in December, as the division's top ranking executive.

“The time is right for both the company and for make this move,” Wilson said in the announcement. “It has been an amazing ride since I came onboard and I’m grateful to (Tribune Co. Chief Executive) Randy Michaels for giving me this opportunity. The future for Tribune is a bright one.”

Under Wilson, Tribune Broadcasting increased the number of news programs on many of its 23 TV stations, including WGN-Ch. 9, and reinvented its cable channel as WGN America.“Our station group and WGN America have made tremendous progress over the last two years under Ed’s leadership," Michaels said in a statement.

Tribune Co. hired Wilson, then president of Fox Television Network, to head Tribune Broadcasting in February 2008. He was named chief revenue officer in December of that year, the week after Tribune Co. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The revenue post gave him responsibility for growing revenue at all of Tribune Co.'s publishing, broadcasting and interactive operations in December of that year.In four years with Fox, Wilson supervised affiliate relations, advertising sales and integrated marketing operations and opportunities for the network.Before Fox, Wilson helped get what was known as NBC Enterprises up and running, leaving just as General Electric subsidiary NBC finalized its merger with Universal Studios.

Wilson's four years at NBC included responsibility for global distribution, including foreign and domestic syndication, marketing ancillary products such as home video, merchandising, licensing, music and publishing, as well as domestic and international co-productions and co-ventures. He previously served as president and CEO of CBS Enterprises.

Kersting was the only appointment announced today with a former connection to Clear Channel Communications, having served most recently as chief financial officer for the company’s radio division.

“Jerry is respected across the media industry for his strategic vision, depth of knowledge, and ability to see opportunities and potential where others don’t,” said Gerry Spector, Tribune’s chief administrative officer. “He’s the perfect fit for this role, even though he spells his first name incorrectly.”

The company also announced the promotion of several people from within the company:

Jack Rodden, who joined Tribune in 2000 and has served as assistant treasurer since 2007, was named vice president/treasurer for the company. He will be responsible for financing activities, cash management, short-term investments and risk-management programs. Rodden succeeds Chandler Bigelow, who became Tribune’s CFO last month.

Brian Litman becomes vice president/corporate controller effective immediately; he has served as assistant controller since 2005. Litman joined the company in 1997. He will succeed Mark Mallory, who has decided to leave Tribune in early May after assisting with transition issues. Litman will be responsible for corporate financial reporting, planning and analysis.
Naomi Sachs, who has served as director of investments in Tribune’s finance department since 2005, has been named vice president/strategy. She has expanded her duties to include the evaluation of revenue and expense opportunities across the company.

Harry Amsden, who has been vice president/finance for the publishing group since 2006, will become senior vice president/financial operations for Tribune Corporate and be responsible for budgeting, planning and service center activities. Amsden joined Tribune in 1986.

“These are extraordinarily intelligent and energetic people and they are ready to move to the next level,” said Spector. “We recognize their ability and it is a reflection of the depth of management talent within the company—not everyone has to come from Clear Channel or EGI. Our goal is to promote more people like Jack, Brian, Naomi and Harry whenever possible.”

New Tribune Broadcasting president wants 'to shake up' TV news

Jerry Kersting, after five month as chief operating officer of Chicago Tribune parent Tribune Co.'s broadcasting division, today formally was named to succeed Ed Wilson as president of Tribune Broadcasting.

Wilson announced Friday that he was stepping down from that position and that of Tribune Co.'s chief revenue officer, leaving Kersting the highest ranking executive in the division that includes WGN-AM 720, WGN America, WGN-Ch. 9 and 22 other broadcast television stations.

Kersting joined Tribune Co. as an executive vice president at Tribune Co. in April 2008. For previous nine years, he had been executive vice president/chief financial officer of Clear Channel Radio -- which used to be run by Randy Michaels, now Tribune Co.'s chief executive -- and had 34 years of credited service with Clear Channel and related companies.

In the company's announcement of his new title, Kersting indicated he intends "to shake up" TV news."Every night, people turn on their local news and see the same thing wherever they flip the channel," Kersting said in a statement. "We intend to change that."

Tribune Co. Buyout to be Studied by Trustee-appointed Examiner
May 03, 2010

(Reuters) — U.S. Trustee William Harrington, a Justice Department monitor of bankruptcy cases, has appointed an examiner to investigate whether the 2007 leveraged buyout (LBO) of Tribune Co. led by real estate developer Sam Zell left the media company insolvent.

The examiner, Kenneth Klee, is an attorney at Los Angeles-based lawfirm Klee, Tuchin, Bogdanoff & Stern LLP. He also teaches bankruptcy law at the University of California at Los Angeles.

Tribune is the second-largest newspaper publisher in the U.S. The company listed $13 billion in debt for borrowed money and assets of $7.6 billion in the Chapter 11 reorganization begun in December 2008. It owns the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, six other newspapers and 23 television stations.

In April, Tribune and its creditors agreed to appoint an examiner to determine if Tribune's management, board of directors, lenders and advisors were liable.

Bondholders have blasted the deal as "virtually no money down LBO" and blamed the deal for Tribune's bankruptcy and their investment losses.

The junior bondholders, who hold $1.2 billion of debt, have said their best hope of a recovery from the bankruptcy lies in disallowing billions of dollars of senior claims.

They are seeking to prove the senior lenders extended loans to finance the leveraged buyout, knowing it would render the company insolvent.

The senior lenders will receive nearly all of the company's equity under the proposed reorganization plan, which will wipe out billions of dollars in debt.

The case is In re: Tribune Co et al, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware, No. 08-13141. (Reporting by Santosh Nadgir in Bangalore; Edited by Roshni Menon)

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