SAN LUIS OBISPO, CALIF. — In a major power shift that sets the Hispanic-targeted media company on perhaps a new course, LBI Media — the parent of Liberman Broadcasting and the Estrella TV Spanish-language broadcast television network — has confirmed that its COO has exited the Burbank-based company.
In his place, on an interim basis, is a former board director of R Communications who spent 11 years as Chairman/CEO of Granite Broadcasting.
In a statement obtained exclusively by RBR+TVBR, LBI Media confirmed that Winter Horton will be leaving the company “to pursue other interests.”
It also confirmed that company co-founder Lenard Liberman remains CEO.
“We wish to thank Mr. Horton for his contributions and dedication to the company,” LBI Media said of Horton, a 22-year veteran who joined the company in 1997 as VP/Programming for its Estrella TV flagship property, KRCA-62 in Los Angeles.
Together with Mr. Liberman, Horton helped develop LBI Media’s production arm and programming strategy. In 2001, while serving as Corporate VP, he oversaw the launch of LBI Media’s radio and television stations in Houston. Initial success with the Houston properties led LBI Media in 2004 to acquire five radio stations and one television station in Dallas. Horton oversaw that launch.
Prior to joining LBI Media, Horton owned a production company where he successfully directed and produced television commercials, music videos and television shows for HBO and ABC.
A source close to the matter tells RBR+TVBR that Horton’s resignation is perhaps tied to dissatisfaction over LBI Media’s business by its lead creditor group — a key entity involved in LBI’s emergence from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. LBI disputes this claim.
In Burbank’s Empire Center, where LBI maintains its headquarters, unfamiliar individuals have been seen entering and exiting offices this week, the source said.
Could one of these individuals be the interim COO, charged with taking Horton’s duties?
That would be Peter Markham, best-known for his run as Chairman/CEO of TV station owner Granite from August 2009 through December 2015.
His experience at Granite could prove very meaningful for LBI Media: After completing a financial restructuring and operational turn-around, Granite as of August 2017 realized asset sales of approximately $450 million for its private equity sponsors, Silver Point Capital and GoldenTree Asset Management, and other minority shareholders.
Markham is also no stranger to Hispanic media, as he served from January 2015 through July 2018 as a Board Director at R Communications, which operates in South Texas. The company is backed by Atalaya Capital Management.
Prior to these roles, Markham made his mark as Executive Chairman of Communications Corporation of America. And, from April 2006-January 2010, he was head of TMT & European Coverage at Silver Point Capital.
Before that, from January 2004-January 2007, he served as a Strategic Advisory Board Member for Madison Square Garden Media Networks.
LBI Media did not elaborate on the circumstances regarding Markham’s appointment.
In addition to Estrella TV, LBI Media owns Fenomeno Studios, “the first Spanish-language Multiplatform Network (MPN) in the U.S.” It was launched in 2015.
It also owns and operates 17 radio stations across the U.S.