Tribune Media CEO Peter Liguori stepping down

Peter Liguori will leave the company in early March. Image: Tribune Media

Tribune Media Company today announced that President and CEO Peter Liguori will leave the company following its fourth-quarter earnings release in the first week of March.

Liguori will also leave the board of directors at that time. Tribune's board has tapped executive search firm Korn Ferry to assist in the search for a new CEO.

Current Tribune board member Peter Kern will serve as the interim CEO during the search process.

"Following the successful completion of several financial, strategic and creative initiatives, culminating in the pending sale of Gracenote, Tribune Media is well advanced in its transformation to a more focused broadcast and cable networks company," said Liguori in a statement. "I believe that now is the ideal time for a new leader to steer today's Tribune. As curious and excited as I am about pursuing new opportunities, I am equally grateful for the achievements, commitment and integrity of this company's management team and its dedicated employees."

"We greatly appreciate Peter's leadership in the transformation of Tribune Media over the last four years, including the efforts to monetize non-core assets and simplify the company. It became clear to Peter and the board that in this last year of his contract it was time to find a new CEO to run the more broadcast-centric company," Bruce Karsh, chairman of Tribune Media's board of directors, said in a statement.

Liguori, who was appointed CEO in January 2013, helped spearhead a restructuring at Tribune Media, including the $2.7 billion acquisition of Local TV, which added 19 local television stations and increased Tribune Media’s local television station count to 42. He also oversaw Tribune’s 2014 spinoff of its newspaper publishing business and the company's strategic investments in WGN America.   

RELATED: Nielsen buys Gracenote in bid to boost audience measurement capabilities

Liguori’s departure comes shortly after Tribune and Nielsen announced an agreement for Nielsen to buy media data company Gracenote from Tribune Media for $560 million.

"Gracenote's metadata and content recognition technology fuels the interfaces of the major video, music and in-car infotainment systems that consumers engage with every day. This acquisition provides Nielsen with a significant asset in our mission of measuring and understanding consumer behavior," Karthik Rao, president of Expanded Verticals at Nielsen, said in a statement.

That transaction is expected to close during the first quarter of 2017.