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Freedom Communications Puts Former DirecTV Chief in Charge

IRVINE, CALIF.: Mitchell Stern has been named president and CEO of Freedom Communications. Stern has been a member of Freedom’s board since February, and was chief executive at DirecTV from 2003 to 2005. He worked at Fox Television Stations in Los Angeles prior to moving to the direct broadcast satellite operation. He will officially assume Freedom the job tomorrow, three months after the media company emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

“His talents as both a strategic thinker and a hands-on executive are a perfect fit for Freedom, and make him the right person to lead our talented associates and diverse properties in tackling the challenges of the new media environment,” said James Dunning Jr., chairman of the Freedom board.

Freedom owns eight TV stations and around 90 print publications, including Southern California’s Orange County Register. Stern succeeds Burl Osborne, who took over as interim CEO in June of 2009 to see the company through bankruptcy. Osborne will remain on the board and serve as a special advisor.

“With its local focus and national breadth, and with a successful restructuring behind it, Freedom is perfectly positioned to demonstrate what it means to be a new kind of media company,” Stern said in the announcement of his appointment. “My job from day one will be to focus all our talents and energies on achieving that goal.”

At Fox, Stern rose to chairman and CEO of the TV station group after working at Fox O&O KTTV-TV in Los Angeles. He started out in TV at CBS in New York. He has a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Chicago and received his undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania. 

Freedom filed for Chapter 11 last September with around $1 billion in debt. It emerged April 30, having eliminated $445 million in secured debt.

Freedom’s Clovis News Journal has a story on the formation of the family-owned media company and how it devolved into bankruptcy, at “Freedom Communications Could Not Overcome Family, Times.”

-- Deborah D. McAdams