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Tribune CEO Sketches New Course for Cabler WGN America

Company to invest in original series, like historical dramas 'Salem' and 'Manhattan'

WGN America may be thought of most often as a “superstation,” one of those regionally important TV-stations whose programming reaches across the nation, But if Tribune CEO Peter Liguori has his way, the cabler will be thought of more like one of his old stomping grounds: FX

Liguori, who joined Tribune as president and CEO in January, described a process currently underway to bring new programming to WGN America that would make the station of more value to audiences, advertisers and video distributors. “Salem,” a historical drama based on the witch trials of this nation’s colonial era,, is expected to debut in the third or fourth quarter of 2014. Also in development is “Manhattan.” another historical series centered around the Manhattan Project.

Liguori hoped to have four 13-episode series running on WGN America so that the network would have something original on 52 weeks a year.

“The great hope is we can be a very solid general-entertainment network,” the exec said, speaking at NYC Television Week, an industry conference.  WGN American is currently in about 65 million homes, he said, and Tribune “would like to see it fully distributed. We need to provide value to the cable distributor. It is all a matter of intelligently investing in programming.”

Liguori also spoke of the heft the pending $2.725 billion acquisition by Tribune of Local TV Holdings, LLC’s 19 stations would give the company in the marketplace. With those stations under its aegis, Tribune would be the largest owner of Fox-affiliated TV stations, he said, and is already the biggest owner of CW-affiliated stations.

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