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Tribune Co. Promotes LA Times’ Hartenstein to President, CEO In Dual Role

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Eddy Hartenstein, the publisher and CEO of Los Angeles Times Communications and a member of parent Tribune Company’s Executive Council, has been named president and CEO of Tribune. The Executive Council was created in October, following the resignation of Randy Michaels, a former Clear Channel (OTCBB: CCMO) executive who was brought in as EVP/CEO of Tribune’s broadcasting and interactive businesses by Tribune Chairman Sam Zell.

Michaels, who was named CEO of the entire company shortly after, left the bankrupt company amid a management meltdown following a series of articles by the New York Times’ David Carr that painted a scandalous picture of the company’s culture.

New COO for LAT Media Group: Hartenstein, who was appointed by the Tribune’s board to his new post, will keep his LAT Communications position in addition to taking on the larger role at the Tribune. He’ll be managing both jobs with help from Kathy Thomson, appointed today to the newly created position of president and COO of the LAT Media Group.

Thomson is returning to the LAT after serving for the past 18 months as VP, Business Operations at Qualcomm’s FLO TV. She was chief of staff at LAT from September 2008 to 2009, joining LATMG from Energy Innovations where she was the company’s COO and after spending 15 years in a variety of positions at DirecTV (NYSE: DTV). She will report to Hartenstein.

Will Zell remain?: Last fall, Michaels stepped down a few days after the resignation of former Clear Channel alum Lee Abrams as Tribune’s chief innovation officer. Carr’s stories in the NYT described a “shock jock culture” at the Tribune. The pieces stung and the board eventually felt that the sordid goings on distracted the company from its attempts to resolve its bankruptcy, which is still going on.

The Executive Council was put in place to run the company upon Michaels’ departure. In addition to Hartenstein, the other four-members of the office of the president included Tony Hunter, president and publisher of the Chicago Tribune Media Group; Nils Larsen, Tribune Co.’s chief investment officer; and Don Liebentritt, chief restructuring officer. Now that Hartenstein is taking charge, the Executive Council is being disbanded.

“The board feels strongly that it is in Tribune’s best interests to have one person providing strategic vision and day-to-day direction for the company and its employees as we prepare to emerge from the Chapter 11 process,” said Zell in a statement. Now, as the company prepares to exit Chapter 11, which has dragged on for more than two years, the speculation as to how long Zell will remain as chairman will likely ramp up again as well.