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Tribune explores distribution ideas

Broadcasting company regains syndie interest

Tribune Broadcasting is exploring the possibility of launching a distribution company to handle shows from outside producers.

Tribune Broadcasting prexy Ed Wilson has been talking with syndie biz vet Joel Berman, the former head of Paramount Domestic TV and CBS Paramount Worldwide TV, about heading the venture.

News comes as something of a surprise given that Tribune shuttered the Tribune Entertainment production and distribution arm in December, right after the Chicago-based newspaper and TV station owner was taken private in a buyout led by Sam Zell (Daily Variety, Dec. 19).

It’s understood that the initiative under consideration would not develop original programming but rather would focus on handling off-network and firstrun sales of shows from third-party producers. Having a distribution infrastructure in place would help Tribune capitalize on the value of its 23 TV stations to producers looking to sell programming in syndication.

Berman left CBS Par Worldwide TV in September 2006 after CBS merged the former Paramount Domestic TV with its King World Prods. unit. For the past year, he’s served as a syndication consultant to Discovery Communications, overseeing the cable giant’s first effort to sell reruns of its hits (“Deadliest Catch,” “American Chopper”) to local broadcast stations through indie distrib Debmar-Mercury.

Like Berman, Wilson is an experienced syndie sales exec. He was named prexy of Tribune Broadcasting in February (Daily Variety, Feb. 5).

A Tribune spokesman declined comment.

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