Tribune Co.'s $2.73-billion purchase of 19 television stations Monday will have no impact on whether the company sells its newspapers including the Los Angeles Times, Chief Executive Peter Liguori said.
“We’re not going to look at the newspapers today any differently than we did yesterday,” Liguori told Tribune employees around the country during a town hall meeting to discuss the company’s deal to acquire Local TV Holdings.
Liguori, who was speaking to staff from Tribune’s New York television station WPIX-TV, said the company is going to continue to explore its options with the newspapers. Besides the Los Angeles Times, Tribune’s newspaper holdings include the Chicago Tribune and Baltimore Sun.
“We’re in no rush,” he said, adding that the only urgency is in “how to make those businesses hum better and create better journalism each and every day.”
Tribune has retained investment banks to field offers for its newspapers. Among potential suitors for the papers are Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. and the Koch brothers, who operate Koch Industries.
The deal to acquire Local TV Holdings will make Tribune one of the most powerful broadcasters in the country, with 42 stations in 33 markets.
“We needed to get away from defense and start playing offense and the only way to do that is to get scale,” Liguori said. By being bigger, Tribune will have greater leverage in negotiating both with advertisers and pay-TV distributors that want to carry the company’s television stations.
“Cable operators are going to have to listen to us a little bit more,” he said.
Follow Joe Flint on Twitter @JBFlint.