Randy, Tribune And TV 8

UPDATE 3:56 PM 12/20/07: The Sam Zell takeover of Tribune is complete, and Randy Michaels has been announced as “executive vice president and chief executive officer of Interactive and Broadcasting” for Tribune under Zell’s leadership…

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This is by no means a confirmation of our earlier report that Local TV, LLC, the television operating arm of Oak Hill Capital Partners, is in line to buy the FOX sub-top 10 market owned-and-operated stations being sold – most notably, for this report, including WJW/8 “FOX 8” in Cleveland.

But it may explain why nothing’s been announced.

The Los Angeles Times reports (along with another story by the Wall Street Journal) that veteran broadcast executive Randy Michaels – now running the Local TV group – is heading for Tribune…to rejoin long-time colleague and partner Sam Zell, who’s about to buy the chain.

From the Times article (free registration required):

Michaels’ is the first name to surface as Zell begins assembling his management team. A company source said Michaels would probably focus on Tribune’s broadcast and interactive businesses.

Anyone who knows Randy’s history knows that he ran the old Jacor Communications for Zell, then stayed on after Clear Channel bought out the company as CC’s top radio executive.

So, it’s no surprise that Randy would lead the charge for Zell with his new company’s broadcast – and interactive – divisions.

What does this have to do with “FOX 8”, and the eight other FOX O&Os being spun off by News Corporation?

Well, we’d announced that a new buyer was “found”, widely expected to be Michaels’ Local TV group.

A number of folks who know this sort of thing better than we do are speculating that along with Michaels’ move to Tribune, Oak Hill Capital Partners may invest in the new Sam Zell-led Tribune, folding its Local TV stations into that company.

In effect, if this all pans out (and this is major speculation and rumor at this point), Randy Michaels would still end up overseeing the nine smaller-market FOX O&Os, including WJW, but as Tribune’s broadcasting boss…not Local TV’s.

As such, this deal potentially being “in flux” may be the cause of the delay in the announcement of WJW’s new ownership.

That, like everything in the preceding few lines, is our own speculation. But it makes sense, since we already know Randy Michaels is heading for Tribune.

Just some food for thought…

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