Less than two weeks before the planned launch of a new digital site, Tribune Media decided instead that it is, in the words of interim CEO Peter Kern, “taking another step in the strategic review process, reorganizing our centralized digital operation and fully integrating it into Tribune Broadcasting.” To translate: the organization is scrapping its planned launch and has laid off employees hired to staff the site as well as those from other ventures, more than 18 in total, according to Politico’s Peter Sterne. Tribune Media has also axed its planned relaunch of Television Without Pity, which Tribune Media took ownership of after NBCUniversal, its previous owner, shut down the site in 2014. Among the departing employees is chief product officer Josh Cogswell who was hired in 2015 to set digital strategy.
Tribune Media, which was created in 2014 after the Tribune Company split into two organizations, received Tribune Company’s TV assets. Sterne speculates that the decision could be part of preparations for a sale. Last month, rumors surfaced of a potential merger between Tribune Media and Sinclair Broadcast Group, a deal that would put the combined company’s share of stations over the allowable FCC limit.