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Dunn to run CBS stations

Peter Dunn is in and Tom Kane is out as president of the CBS Television Stations. While Dunn’s ascension comes as a bit of a surprise, Kane’s exit does not.

Sources say that Kane actually has been expected to leave the company for more than a year, but his contract ended up being extended twice: once for a year and then again for 90 days. CBS would not comment on Kane’s departure, but one source simply said: “it was time.”

I’m not exactly sure what that means, but it’s possible that Kane left on his own accord. Running a station group in this environment is like operating with your hands tied behind your back, and Kane was likely being asked to maintain and even grow the group’s profit margin, even though the ad market has bottomed out and many syndicated shows often cost more than they earn. Many of my sources noted that Kane, who’s been in the business for 40 years, has always been a pleasure to work with.

Kane was named president and CEO of the CBS TV stations group in Sept. 2005. Prior to that, he was president of sales for the Viacom Television Stations Group (renamed to CBS TV Stations Group on Jan. 3, 2006), a post that Dunn held before becoming president and general manager of WCBS New York.

Prior to coming to CBS, Kane was president and general manager of WABC New York and president and general manager of WPVI Philadelphia, two of the ABC station group’s powerhouse stations. He worked at WABC for years, as general sales manager from 1986-93, sales manager from 1982-86 and account executive from 1975-77. In between, he was an account exec for ABC spot sales in Detroit from 1977-78 and in New York from 1978-79. He was promoted to Eastern Sales Manager in 1979, and did that job until 1982, when he went back to WABC. He began his career in television in 1969 in the media department of Dancer, Fitzgerald & Sample.

Of Kane, CBS President and CEO Leslie Moonves said in a statement: “Tom has navigated our stations through the roughest economy we’ve known, and he has done so with a sure and steady hand. His many contributions have left us well-positioned for the economic turnaround that we are beginning to see. It’s been a pleasure to work with him through his time here at CBS, and we all wish him well as he moves on to the next chapter.”

Like everybody else, the CBS stations have taken a hit in this recession. In CBS’ most recent quarterly earnings report, the company announced that revenues fell 14% at the station group, compared to 30% in the second quarter and 26% in the first. CBS notes that station economics are finally improving, and they have been helped by the stellar performance of the CBS network, particularly at 10 p.m., with shows such as CSI, CSI: Miami, CSI: New York and now The Good Wife on Tuesdays.

Dunn has a done a good job of strengthening WCBS New York, and particularly its late news. As mentioned, Dunn ran sales for the CBS stations in between those two jobs, and knows that all-important area well.

Before coming to CBS, Dunn served as EVP of sales and SVP of sales and marketing for the NBC Television Stations Division. He also worked as local sales manager, national sales manager and account manager for WNBC-TV, which he joined in 1997. From 1987-1997, Dunn worked at the ABC Television Network as an account executive for both ABC Spot Sales and WABC-TV. He also worked as a sales manager for Katz TV in Boston, and served as national sales manager for WHEC-TV in Rochester, NY.

For now, Dunn will both be running the CBS station group and WCBS, although some sources speculated that someone would  eventually be hired or promoted at WCBS so that Dunn can focus on the group.

Contributing editor Paige Albiniak has been covering the business of television for nearly 25 years. She is a longtime contributor to Next TV, Broadcasting + Cable and Multichannel News. She concurrently serves as editorial director for entertainment marketing association Promax. She has written for such publications as TVNewsCheck, The New York Post, Variety, CBS Watch and more. Albiniak was B+C’s Los Angeles bureau chief from September 2002 to 2004, and an associate editor covering Congress and lobbying for the magazine in Washington, D.C., from January 1997-September 2002.