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June 30, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

The Tribune Co. plans to turn its Chicago-based WGN America "superstation" into a regular cable network featuring original programming, the New York Times reported on Sunday. It has already scored a success with its first original drama, Salem, a fictional account of the Salem witch hunts, and plans to launch a new series in July titled Manhattan, about the World War II Manhattan Project that developed the atom bomb. WGN America president Matt Cherniss told the Times that the new programming represents the beginning of the channel’s transformation from superstation to cable network. Overseeing the project is former Fox TV exec Peter Liguori, who now holds the post of CEO of the Tribune Company. Liguori was responsible for bringing original programming to the company’s FX network. Noting that Tribune has been criticized by analysts for dragging its feet in transitioning WGN to a proper cable network, Liguori indicated that he agreed with the criticism. "Here was a channel with 70 to 80 million Nielsen homes with virtually no programming, in a universe where distribution is beachfront property." The situation is "fraught with opportunity," he said.