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From The Mouse To The Tower?

By Marcus Gilmer in News on Aug 26, 2010 2:40PM

Eisner, Copperfield, and the secret plans to save the Tribune Company
As the Tribune Company's ongoing bankruptcy issues drag on, its creditors are already looking for a new chairman for the day that the company comes out of bankruptcy and one name that's being mentioned is former Walt Disney Company CEO Michael Eisner. The company's bankruptcy negotiations hit a big obstacle last week as negotiations between the company and its creditors fell apart. But that hasn't stopped creditors for preparing for the future. One scenario partners Eisner with Jeff Shell, currently at Comcast and a former of Disney's strategic planning staff when Eisner was still at the company.

According to people familiar with the matter, other executives who have been approached by one or more of the creditors about playing a role in Tribune, post-bankruptcy, include Fred Reynolds, the retired chief financial officer of CBS Corp., Mel Karmazin, chief executive of Sirius XM Radio Inc., Terry S. Semel, former chairman and co-chief executive of Warner Bros. and Robert Pittman, former chief operating officer of AOL Time Warner.

Even as he has made no comment on this latest report, earlier this week, Eisner spoke with Variety about paying for content online, mentioning the Tribune Company.

[Variety:] Where do you come out on pay vs. free on the Internet?

[Eisner:] Both sides have valid arguments. Advertising as a medium is fantastic. Advertising is a dominant means of finding a way to pay for that which is creative. But there are many examples of people who will pay for something that is unique with or without advertising. You are talking to somebody who is buying debt in the Tribune Co. The salvation of the newspaper is some kind of pay arrangement (online), which will evolve into something significant.

The TribCo is developing their own plan to come out of bankruptcy which is due to the court tomorrow after which creditors could vote to accept or submit their own plan as the process promises to drag out for at least several more months.