In a strategic move that could be repeated elsewhere, Tribune Co. announced Wednesday that its South Florida Sun-Sentinel and Miami-based WSFL-TV would merge operations, with the TV station's staff moving to the newspaper's Fort Lauderdale headquarters.
The move goes further than any previous newspaper-TV station collaboration, said Ed Wilson, new president of Tribune Broadcasting. He said the merger would give advertisers "a single point of contact" for reaching the South Florida market via print, broadcast and the Internet. It also would enable the company to more efficiently create editorial content, particularly in "lifestyle" areas, that could be used on all three platforms.
Chicago-based Tribune owns the Los Angeles Times and KTLA Channel 5. Since Chicago billionaire Sam Zell took over as chief executive in December after leading an $8.4-billion buyout of Tribune, he has talked about trying to wring more synergy from the company's same-city print and broadcast outlets. Previous Tribune management also favored the idea, but the goal proved elusive.
"This is the new Tribune," Wilson said. "Instead of sitting and debating, let's at least give it a try."
Zell and top lieutenant Randy Michaels, CEO of broadcast and interactive, have expressed enthusiasm for combining some operations of The Times and KTLA. Wilson said no Fort Lauderdale-style merger was on the horizon, but he and Times Publisher David Hiller said the newspaper and TV station were ramping up their cooperation.