Peter Liguori, who spun off Tribune’s newspaper properties to re-focus the company on its core TV-broadcasting operations, will step down as chief executive of Tribune Media in March, the company said Wednesday.
Liguori, who has been CEO since 2013, will also step down from the board. Both will happen in the first week of March when the company, owner of 42 local broadcasters, reports its fourth quarter results.
Board member Peter Kern, the chairman of Hemisphere Media Group, will serve as interim chief executive while Tribune Media looks for a replacement.
Chicago-based Tribune owns the WGN America cable network in addition to broadcast properties, which include affiliates of CBS, Twenty-First Century Fox, Walt Disney’s ABC and Comcast’s NBC.
Liguori has been exploring strategic options for almost a year as Tribune’s rivals consolidate to reduce costs and gain negotiating leverage with cable and satellite-TV companies, which pay fees to rebroadcast local signals to subscribers.
Tribune, the largest US operator of broadcast stations by coverage, has been forced to sit on the sidelines in the latest round of media mergers because FCC rules don’t allow broadcasting companies to exceed coverage of 39 percent of US television households, according to Bloomberg.
Tribune covers about 44 percent of the population, according to a Bloomberg Intelligence analysis.