Friday, March 13, 2009

News Corp. Realigns TV, Film Businesses


News Corp. announced a restructuring of its television and film operations, as President and Chief Operating Officer Peter Chernin, who leads the company's entertainment businesses, prepares to depart.

The company's film and television production businesses will be combined under two News Corp. movie executives, Jim Gianopulos and Tom Rothman, who currently serve as co-chairmen of Fox Filmed Entertainment. All of Fox's TV-entertainment networks will be folded under cable executive Tony Vinciquerra.

Peter Liguori, who oversees television programming for the Fox broadcast network, will step down from his post, the company said Thursday. Peter Rice, president of specialty-film division Fox Searchlight, will take over Mr. Liguori's role, reporting to Mr. Vinciquerra.

A management reshuffle had been expected following the announcement more than two weeks ago that Mr. Chernin will leave News Corp. when his contract expires this summer. News Corp. Chairman and Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch has said he will oversee the Los Angeles-based businesses when Mr. Chernin departs, but the company's existing entertainment executives were expected to be given greater responsibility.

"This new creative structure will enable us immediately to operate more efficiently," Mr. Murdoch said in a staff memo. "We will remove unnecessary barriers that have existed between our businesses."

Executives at News Corp., which owns Wall Street Journal publisher Dow Jones & Co., have pushed for greater cooperation among its businesses, which also include satellite-television businesses in Europe, a stable of newspapers in the U.K. and Australia, local TV stations in the U.S. and the MySpace social-networking site.

Messrs. Gianopulos, Rothman and Vinciquerra are a collective stand-in for Mr. Chernin, who has been in his post for more than 12 years, holding together a diverse group of businesses and executives in Los Angeles. Mr. Chernin is exiting amid rising challenges for movie and television businesses as the faltering economy deflates advertising sales for broadcast television and local-TV stations, and as DVD sales -- the major profit center for film companies -- are slumping.

Mr. Vinciquerra had been responsible for the business side of Fox network, from advertising sales to relationships with affiliated local-TV stations. Adding the network's programming side -- including its prime-time TV lineup -- to the cable networks Mr. Vinciquerra oversees gives him responsibility for all of Fox's TV-entertainment networks, but not its cable-news outlets or TV stations, which are led by Roger Ailes.

The decision to put broadcast-network programming under an executive with a cable-heavy portfolio comes as the economic downturn is straining broadcast television's ad-supported business model. Cable networks have been hit less hard in the ad marketplace.

Mr. Rice, who has long been seen as a candidate for a more senior role, is moving over to the TV business after scoring a number of successes at Fox Searchlight, including Oscar winner "Slumdog Millionaire." Mr. Rice's deputies, Nancy Utley and Steve Gilula, will take over the reins at Fox Searchlight.

Write to Shira Ovide at and Sam Schechner at

No comments: