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Don Corsini takes KTLA post

He spent 12 years as general manager of KCBS, including 61/2 years also leading KCAL, before stepping down when his contract expired last week.

January 06, 2009|Meg James

Longtime CBS television station executive Don Corsini has joined crosstown rival KTLA-TV Channel 5, becoming general manager and president of the Tribune-owned station.

Corsini last summer decided to step down as general manager of CBS Corp.'s two Los Angeles stations -- KCBS-TV Channel 2 and KCAL-TV Channel 9 -- when his contract expired Wednesday. He spent 12 years at the helm of KCAL, including the past 6 1/2 years when he also ran KCBS, setting a record as that station's longest serving general manager.

"After 12 years, I was up for a new challenge," he said. His first day at KTLA was Thursday.

Corsini, 61, is credited with combining the operations of KCBS and KCAL in 2002, hiring Paul Magers as KCBS co-anchor in 2004 and revamping the telecasts and equipment for the two stations, which recently moved to a new facility in Studio City.

Ed Wilson, president of Tribune Broadcasting, lauded Corsini for his track record of recruiting and keeping staff members and negotiating broadcast rights with several sports teams, suggesting that KTLA might seek to bolster its lineup with sports.

KTLA, like competing stations, faces significant challenges. Prominent advertisers, including car dealerships and retailers, have curbed their spending, which has reduced local TV stations' profits. Meanwhile, more viewers are getting their news and entertainment from the Internet, making it crucial for stations to provide compelling programming.

In addition, KTLA parent company Tribune Co. filed for bankruptcy protection last month to try to restructure its nearly $13 billion in debt, largely from real estate mogul Sam Zell's leveraged buyout of the company in late 2007. Tribune also owns the Los Angeles Times.

Tribune owes Hollywood production studios millions of dollars in fees for broadcasting such popular syndicated sit-coms as "Two and a Half Men" and "Family Guy." Tribune must resolve its obligations to its studio suppliers to avoid an interruption in programming.

Corsini said he didn't believe the station would be hurt by the company's precarious financial situation.

"There is still an incredible opportunity at Tribune, and there's an incredible opportunity at KTLA," he said. "We can go out and compete for programming and talent."

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meg.james@latimes.com

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