With 23 television stations in 19 markets including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia, Tribune Co. is one of the biggest broadcasters in the nation.
But taking advantage of the platform has proved difficult for Tribune. Most of its stations are affiliated with the CW Network, which is co-owned by CBS and Warner Bros. The CW’s programming is aimed primarily at young women, and that conflicts with Tribune’s news-heavy TV audience, which is much older and more male.
In an interview, new Tribune Chief Executive Peter Liguori said he wants to maintain the relationship with the CW but acknowledged that there is a challenge associated with that. He said he is looking forward to meeting with CW head Mark Pedowitz, CBS CEO Leslie Moonves and Warner Bros. Television Group President Bruce Rosenblum to discuss the relationship.
Liguori said he wants to tell them, “I’m willing to invest in our programming to make it the best it can be.” He said he planned to express that same sentiment to the brass at Fox. Tribune also owns Fox affiliates.
As for the idea that the CW programming in prime time doesn’t fit the Tribune station news programming that follows, Liguori said he didn’t think that was a deal-breaker.
“I don’t think television is as lead-in dependent as it used to be,” he said. “People watch their favorite shows more so than they watch their favorite networks.” The stations, he believes, can try to serve multiple audiences with solid results.
As for the relationship between the Tribune TV stations and its newspaper holdings (including the Los Angeles Times), Liguori said he is “allergic to the buzz word synergy” and forced partnerships between the two units. Putting the customer first, he added, “will create a natural flow from platform to platform.”
“When you look at Chicago, a great radio asset in WGN radio, a great local TV station in WGN and an iconic newspaper along with [local cable news channel] ChicagoLand, you know that you have great penetration in that city. I think the opportunity is being outward focused and saying if so many of these people are coming to Tribune properties over the course of their daily lives, what can we do for them that will keep them informed and keep them with us,” he said.
While Tribune will continue to keep its corporate headquarters in Chicago, Liguori said he expects to spend a fair amount of time in New York and Los Angeles as well. On Monday, he will start working out of Tribune’s New York offices.
Follow Joe Flint on Twitter @JBFlint.