NYC TV Week: Liguori Sees WGNA Success in Mix of Syndicated/Original Series

Says station deal will close by year end

Complete Coverage: NYC Television Week

New York -- Tribune Company President and CEO Peter Liguori said WGN America will grow the way other young cable networks have – by following a playbook of mixing highly rated syndicated and original series led by its first two projects Salem and Manhattan.

“The number of originals we will have will depend on our success. Our hope is Salem will have a number of seasons…Then we can start programming a night. It doesn’t take a year or two years. Look at AMC. Look at my experience at FX,” Liguori said at NYC Television Week Tuesday.

“We’re going to really go for it on WGNA.” The former president of Fox’s FX Network told moderator Melissa Grego, editor-in-chief of Broadcasting & Cable.

Liguori took the reins of Tribune in January. The company had been mired in a long bankruptcy but emerged with new energy, new leadership, plans to split up the TV and newspaper businesses, and a massive station deal about to close.

He said he hoped WGNA “can be a a very solid general entertainment network” with full distribution. It’s currently in 75 million homes. “I learned at FX we had success build on success. The Shield led to Nip/Tuck led to Rescue Me. We are going to do the same thing at WGNA.”

He said the network’s Tribune Studios would develop projects straight to series, skipping pilots that he called a huge waste of money for the broadcast business.

On the station side, he expects Tribune’s $2.7 billion acquisition of 17 local stations to close by the end of the year. The deal will make Tribune the nation’s largest affiliate group. Liguori said the company’s wide reach is key to its overall growth plan, allowing it to test and promote new shows and formats.

“We like to look at our footprint not just for sheer revenue, but as a distribution and marketing arm. It’s a big point of difference with us and other local TV stations groups,” he said.