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Tribune Media Has a New Digital Boss, and a New Digital Strategy

Shashi Seth is out. M-Go CEO John Batter is in, with a new mission.

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Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

Tribune Media is bringing in a new leader for its digital operations: John Batter, who has been running streaming video service M-Go, is in. Shashi Seth, the former Yahoo executive who has been running Tribune Digital Ventures since May 2013, is out.

The move also indicates a shift in Tribune’s digital strategy. Under Seth, Tribune had built up a wide-ranging portfolio of assets. But Batter will concentrate primarily on Gracenote, the music data company Tribune acquired earlier this year, which is supposed to sync up with the electronic program guide business Tribune already owned.

Here’s a statement from Tribune CEO Peter Liguori: “Tribune Media has decided to focus its digital investment strategy on growing its metadata business globally, which today includes Gracenote and What’s-ON. It is becoming very clear that metadata will help drive the evolution of next-generation TV and music experiences and we believe Gracenote is in an excellent position to drive the industry forward.

Shashi Seth has decided to leave the company to pursue other opportunities. He contributed enormously to the integration of Gracenote and Tribune and the launch of Newsbeat. We appreciate all that Shashi has done for the company and wish him well in the future.”

Sources say other Tribune digital properties, like TV By the Numbers/Zap2it, may be scaled down or sold off. Under Seth, Tribune had also built Newsbeat, an app that delivered personalized news, and invested in other digital companies, including Mashable and Web TV startup NimbleTV.

Batter has been running M-Go, a joint venture between Technicolor and DreamWorks Animation that rents and sells TV shows and movies, since 2011. His resume also includes stops at DreamWorks and Electronic Arts.

Earlier this month, Tribune spun out its newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune into a separate company, and has been concentrating its bets on broadcast TV.

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