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Steve Mosko Goes Shopping: Tribune Media Tops on His List (Exclusive)

Former Sony Pictures TV chairman met with banker Moelis & Co. in recent days to discuss the possibility of an acquisition

Steve Mosko, newly “liberated” from his position running Sony Television, has his eye on an acquisition and troubled Tribune Media is his top target, according to an individual with knowledge of his conversations with bankers.

Tribune Media has been up for sale since February, when the media company hired bankers Moelis & Co. and Guggenheim Partners to explore a sale in the wake of a crushing $385 million loss in the fourth quarter of 2015.

Mosko met with Moelis in recent days to discuss the possibility, according to an individual with knowledge of the meeting.

Mosko is known to believe that Tribune — which has 42 local television stations, the WGN cable channel and a bunch of media-related real estate holdings — to be a company that is a strong fit with his experience running local television stations as well as reviving a major media asset, Sony Television.

He also believes it’s worth more than its current price and could be better leveraged as a national footprint for advertising and for other acquisitions.

Tribune Media’s local stations include 14 Fox affiliates, 13 CW affiliates and six CBS affiliates. But according to one insider, Tribune Media CEO Peter Liguori has weak relationships with CBS chief Les Moonves and Warner Bros. chief Kevin Tsujihara (whose company has a majority stake in the CW).

Liguori did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Sony announced earlier this month that it was not renewing Mosko’s contract after 24 years with the company. The executive spent 13 years running local television before joining Sony.

He is considered one of the most experienced and successful television executives in the marketplace, and was a driving force behind hits including “Breaking Bad,” “Better Call Saul” and “Outlander.”

In an interview after his ouster, Mosko insisted he was “not going away,” and his recent meetings suggest he is looking for a significant challenge.

Tribune, which spun off its newspaper assets in 2014, currently has a market cap of $3.4 billion. Mosko would have to pay significantly more than that to acquire the company, but believes he could easily raise $2 billion in cash that might be required.

Mosko is also looking at other distressed media companies that he could potentially run, and has met in the past week with Rick Hess of Evolution Media and the WME partner Rain to explore other options. TheWrap last week named him as a potential successor at Viacom, where Philippe Dauman is expected to be ousted as CEO.

Tribune Media had been in discussions with Mosko to run the company several years ago before Peter Liguori was recruited for the position, but talks did not go very far.