Tribune Co. names Ed Wilson CRO

Broadcasting president takes on new role

A week after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, Tribune Co. has tapped its broadcasting president Ed Wilson to take on additional duties as the company’s chief revenue officer.

Gig tasks Wilson with responsibility for “growing the company’s publishing, broadcasting and interactive revenues,” Tribune said Monday. Wilson will remain prexy of Tribune Broadcasting, overseeing the company’s 23 TV stations, the WGN America channel and WGN Radio. He reports to Randy Michaels, Tribune’s chief operating officer.

Wilson’s expanded role comes as the company is on the verge of naming Don Corsini, the well-regarded former g.m. of CBS’ Los Angeles duopoly, KCBS-TV and KCAL-TV, to the top job at Tribune’s KTLA-TV Los Angeles (Daily Variety, Aug. 20). There’s been speculation that Corsini is also in line for broader responsibility within the station group.

The g.m. job at KTLA has been vacant for nearly a year, since shortly after Tribune Co. changed hands in a heavily leveraged buyout deal spearheaded by Sam Zell. A crushing $13 billion debt load forced the company to seek Chapter 11 protection last week, amid the general economic slump and plunging ad revenue at Tribune’s eight daily newspapers and TV stations (Daily Variety, Dec. 9).

(Given the severity of the situation, industryites were “appalled,” in the words of one exec, to see Tribune’s press release on Wilson’s appointment include the jokey material that has highlighted the company’s missives since Zell took the helm. Monday’s release joked about Wilson also taking a third job at Starbucks and donating his salary to Tribune.)

Wilson’s expanded profile also reinforces the internal chatter that Tribune aims to become a more TV-centric company after it renegotiates its debt and emerges from bankruptcy. A veteran syndie sales exec, Wilson joined Tribune in February after serving as head of distribution and affiliate relations for Fox for four years.

Since joining Tribune, Wilson has supervised the makeover of the former WGN Superstation into a Nick at Nite-esque channel with vintage TV fare in primetime and the new WGN America moniker. He was also a key player in the short-lived deal that saw financier-producer Media Rights Capital take over CW’s Sunday night sked, with Tribune helping to sell the advertising time in the block. That arrangement was scuttled last month after the shows MRC fielded for the lineup drew barely there ratings and it failed to keep up with payments to the netlet.

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