Laurence Alan Tisch (born March 5, 1923, died November 15, 2003) was a Jewish American businessman, Wall Street investor and self-made billionaire. He was the CEO of CBS television network from 1986 to 1995. With his brother Bob Tisch, he was part owner of the Loews Corporation.
Tisch was widely criticized for his mismanagement of the CBS network and his involvement in the Brown and Williamson scandal (later portrayed in the film The Insider). Many journalistic veterans at CBS News, including Walter Cronkite, accused Tisch of degrading journalistic standards in pursuit of higher profits. Critics have pointed out that Tisch's efforts to prevent the Brown and Williamson story from appearing on 60 Minutes were likely driven by the financial windfall he stood to receive from the company's 1995 sale to Westinghouse Electric Corporation (and his unwillingness to jeopardize the sale, which ultimately netted him $2 billion), as well as the fact that Tisch's Loews Corporation owned a major tobacco company, Lorillard Tobacco.
Tisch served as chairman of the board of trustees at NYU from 1978 to 1998, overseeing a $1 billion capital campaign and major improvements in the university. NYU's Tisch School of the Arts is named in his honor. Tisch was also a former president of the United Jewish Appeal of New York.
As the first hotel took off, the Tisch brothers bought hotels in Atlantic City and the Catskills. Their hotel empire continued to expand, generating millions of dollars, and the Tisch brothers began investing in Loews Theaters.
After he and his brother took over Loews, the company moved in a variety of directions. Loews acquired Lorillard, a tobacco company, and the Bulova Watch Co. Through acquisitions, Tisch built Loews' revenues from $100 million in 1970 to more than $3 billion by a decade later.
At Loews, Tisch oversaw a financial corporation with assets of over $70 billion, including a hotel chain, a tobacco company (Lorillard), an insurance firm (CNA Financial), and an offshore drilling company.
In 2002, the corporation had revenues of more than $17 billion and assets of more than $70 billion.
But the Tisch era was marked by cost-cutting and criticism that he had tarnished the network's reputation and damaged morale. CBS divested itself of non-broadcast assets including Holt, Rinehart and Winston (publishers) for $500M, and the CBS Music Group, which was sold to Sony for $2 billion. Westinghouse Electric bought CBS in 1995 for an estimated $5.4B, of which Tisch's ownership netted him $2B.