Tribune Broadcasting prexy Dennis FitzSimons has added stripes at the Tribune Co., replacing James Dowdle as executive vice president of media operations.

Dowdle, 65, will retire from Tribune effective Dec. 31 but remain on the company’s board of directors through May. John Madigan, chairman, president and CEO of Tribune, made the announcement Tuesday.

Dowdle joined the company in 1981, helping to launch Tribune Broadcasting as its first president and CEO. He took his current position in May 1997.

FitzSimons will remain president of Tribune Broadcasting, but the new post also puts him in charge of Tribune’s publishing and entertainment businesses, including the Chicago Cubs.

“We’ll continue with the strategy we’ve had in place, to be a consolidator,” FitzSimons said of the broadcast division. “Our focus is still on the top 30 markets and to improve our operating performance.”

Under FitzSimon’s direction, Madigan said, “the group has become a major force in broadcasting, expanding from seven television stations in 1994 to 18 today.”

FitzSimons joined Tribune in 1982 as sales director at WGN Chicago, working his way up to Tribune Television president before taking the reins at Tribune Broadcasting.

Handling some of the broadcasting workload will be Michael Eigner, who will be upped to president of Tribune Television. Eigner, who previously led six of Tribune’s East Coast stations as exec VP at Tribune Television, will now oversee all of Tribune’s TV properties.