DirecTV founder named new publisher, CEO

DirecTV founder Eddy Hartenstein has taken the reins of the Los Angeles Times as publisher and CEO.

Hartenstein emerged as an unconventional candidate for the top job at the Tribune Co. newspaper in July (Daily Variety, July 30). The Times reported his appointment in its Saturday edition.

Hartenstein was the driving force behind DirecTV from its launch in 1994 through its acquisition by News Corp. in 2004. He takes the helm of the Times at a time of upheaval and declining profits for the newspaper biz in general and the Times in particular.

Hartenstein is the paper’s third publisher since 2006; his predecessor, Tribune veteran David Hiller, was forced out in July by Tribune’s new chairman-CEO Sam Zell on the same day that the Times instituted a draconian round of staff cuts, including more than 130 positions in editorial. The Times’ cost-cutting reflects the broader woes within Tribune, which has been struggling with plunging sales at its major daily newspapers and a heavy debt load since the company was taken private in December in a buyout led by Chicago-based real estate mogul Zell.

Hartenstein told the Times: “I’m not coming into this with blinders on. I realize that the problems are huge and daunting, but I don’t believe there’s anything that can’t be fixed as long as everyone is pulling in the same direction.”

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