Peter Liguori will be stepping down as CEO of Tribune Media Co. in March, the company announced.
Tribune Media has been undergoing a review of its strategic and financial alternatives and has sold a number of assets including real estate and its Gracenote data business.
"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," said Bruce Karsh, chairman of Tribune Media's board of directors.
The company said it will be working with headhunter Korn Ferry to identify a successor to Liguori, who has been CEO since January 2013.
Liguori plans to leave Tribune after the company reports its fourth quarter and full-year earnings. Peter Kern, a director and managing partner of InterMedia Partners, will serve as the interim CEO during the search.
"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," said Liguori. "I believe that now is the ideal time for a new leader to steer today's Tribune. As curious and excited as I am about pursuing new opportunities, I am equally grateful for the achievements, commitment and integrity of this company's management team and its dedicated employees."
During Liguori's tenure, Tribune spun off its newspapers and doubled down on broadcast, acquiring Local TV for $2.7 billion. The company also expanded the original programming on its WGN America cable network.
Analyst Marcy Ryvicker of Wells Fargo said she was not surprised Tribune wanted a different type of executive to run a more broadcast-centric company. "While Mr. Liguori has been known for his programming expertise with FX and Discovery, the stock has been under a lot of pressure given the troubles at WGN America. Based on the tone of the release, we think the Board will look to bring in a new CEO with extensive experience in the broadcast industry," Ryvicker said in a note Wednesday.
Tribune stock opened lower after the announcement but recovered. Shares were up slight at $29.13 in mid-morning trading.
Before joining Tribune, Liguori had been a top programming executive at Discovery Communications, Fox Broadcasting and FX.
Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.
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