Philly’s Brian Tierney on Web Future, Federal Aid and Bankruptcy

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By: Joe Strupp

With his top online executive departing for Comcast Sports, Brian Tierney, CEO of Philadelphia Media Holdings, says he plans to spend more time at the offices of Philly.com, Web site of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News.

He also says the Web site’s growth since he took over nearly three years ago shows it is on a positive route.

“Eric is a great guy and we are sorry to see him go,” Tierney said of Eric Grilly, Philly.com’s president who announced today he was leaving for Comcast. “We have put together a great team around him. And over the course of the next several months, I am looking forward to getting my arms around it.”

Tierney, who says he usually spends about an hour a week at Philly.com’s offices, plans to increase that to five to seven hours per week. “Over the next couple of weeks, I want to personally get my arms around it and understand it, and see what it needs at this point,” he added. “I think we can move and continue to build on what we have.

“When you look at NYTimes.com, it looks like The New York Times. The same with Boston.com, it is essentially The Boston Globe,” he adds. “We want this to be more of a brand new mall, and the anchors are the Inquirer and Daily News.”

Tierney believes his Web revenue will improve, as will the company’s overall situation — which has included a bankruptcy filing. He said Philadelphia Media Holdings is in the process of putting together a bankruptcy restructuring plan that will be submitted in June.

Asked about this week?s Senate hearings on the newspaper industry, Tierney said a federal bailout or other economic aid is not the answer. Reiterating comments he made to a congressional committee weeks ago, he said federal officials need to back off on antitrust limits for newspaper publishers, at least temporarily, so they can discuss ways to help themselves.

“We don’t need money, we don’t need a bailout,” he said. “We need the ability to innovate. We need a period of 18 months to be able to discuss how we can innovate together, without worrying about antitrust.”

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