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Tribune Co. executive suspended over companywide e-mail

Lee Abrams, the media conglomerate's chief innovation officer, sent a memo that linked to a video that included female nudity.

October 13, 2010|By Phil Rosenthal and Michael Oneal

Tribune Co. chief innovation officer Lee Abrams has been placed on indefinite suspension without pay pending review of a companywide memo he sent to staff Monday that spurred a rash of employee complaints.

Abrams apologized Tuesday "to everyone who was offended" by the e-mail, which included a link to a video labeled "Sluts" that included female nudity. The incident occurred less than a week after a New York Times story that characterized Tribune management as fostering a sexist "frat house" atmosphere.

"Lee recognizes that the video was in extremely bad taste and that it offended employees," Tribune Chief Executive Randy Michaels said in a memo announcing the suspension. Abrams "has also apologized publicly. He reiterated those feelings again to me privately today. But, this is the kind of serious mistake that can't be tolerated; we intend to address it promptly and forcefully."

Abrams may face additional disciplinary action, Michaels said.

Chicago-based Tribune owns the Los Angeles Times, KTLA-TV Channel 5, the Chicago Tribune and other media outlets.

Abrams, 58, came to Tribune after a decade with XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc. (which has merged with former rival Sirius Satellite Radio Inc.), where he served as chief creative officer.

Also Wednesday, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Kevin Carey extended the filing deadlines in Tribune Co.'s bankruptcy case to give rival creditor groups more time to propose alternative restructuring plans.

The move will push the first disclosure hearing on those plans into late November and guarantees that the all-important confirmation hearings in the case won't be held until sometime next year.

Carey had earlier given Tribune and its various creditor constituencies until Friday to file any restructuring plans. But junior creditors asked that a company-sponsored plan negotiated earlier this week be filed first and that they be given two extra weeks to decide whether to file competing plans.

Rosenthal and Oneal write for the Chicago Tribune.

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