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Zell’s Next Move: AP Board

After Tribune buy, another industry play for the overnight media mogul

Sam Zell, who last year succeeded in buying the Tribune Co., is expected to be tapped to join The Associated Press’ board of directors in the coming weeks, sources said.

It is believed that Zell, who took over as chief executive officer of the Tribune following Dennis FitzSimons’ December 2007 departure, will take his seat on the board in mid-March, said one source, who spoke under the condition of anonymity.

"Dennis FitzSimons resigned at the end of last year. Sam Zell is a nominee for election to the board of directors," said Associated Press spokesman Jack Stokes. "The results of the election for the AP board of directors will be announced at the AP annual meeting in April."

FitzSimons’ name appeared on the AP’s directors list as recently as Wednesday afternoon; he was still listed on the AP's Web page as the Tribune's chairman, president and CEO.

A second source who remains familiar with the company even after its sale to Zell said FitzSimons’ departure from the AP board finally paves the way for Zell to assume the former Tribune CEO’s seat.

AP content fills, on average, about half the news hole in American newspapers. Having accumulated flagship newspapers the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and the Long Island, N.Y., Newsday, Zell’s position with the AP, one of the most widely read news sources worldwide, only further solidifies his position as an overnight force in the media industry — even though some of his print assets, including The Baltimore Sun and several Florida assets, are widely speculated to be sold off to pay down billions in debt accumulated when the deal was executed.

Other AP board members include current and former executives from The New York Times Co., The Washington Post Co., Cox Newspapers, Media General, E.W. Scripps, Hearst and McClatchy.

Tribune declined to identify Zell, or any executive, as a potential replacement for FitzSimons.



 

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