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As we explained last night, Fox Digital Media is expanding its role within News Corp., (NYSE: NWS) starting publicly with the acquisition of…

As we explained last night, Fox Digital Media is expanding its role within News Corp., (NYSE: NWS) starting publicly with the acquisition of Beliefnet completed Tuesday morning. FDM, led by Dan Fawcett, now becomes, in essence, an owner and operator, of sites it develops and acquires; it also will be creating a central team to work with Fox web sites currently organized by linear channel (Fuel.com, Speed.com, FX.com). For those trying to make sense of the difference between FDM and Fox Interactive (besides a value in the billions); think of it this way: FDM is all about Fox — if it’s content driven and supports Fox brands, or, as Fawcett put it in an interview, it can be parlayed between Fox companies, it goes with FDM; FIM has everything else.

Fawcett explained the changes during a joint phone interview with Steve Waldman, co-founder and
Editor-in-Chief: “We’ll be involved in having a centralized team that serves the network sites. Also, we’re looking at developing additional online sites and other vertical segments that present market opportunities for us.” Does this mean FDM is shopping? “We’re always interested in opportunities.” For now, the focus is on organizing the current sites and integrating Beliefnet. This means a larger staff for the group that until now was the smallest with a president — it might be still — but Fawcett added, “I have no intention of trying to create a huge centralized bureaucracy.” He also shied away from any language that suggested FDM would be running the network sites or overseeing them, instead stressing “involved.”

Fawcett on FIM: “I have a great relationship with FIM and expect to work together with them on a whole host of things in a variety of ways.” That includes ad serving. I wouldn’t be surprised if social networking technology also comes into play.

Beliefnet’s role: A lot of coverage about the deal has been focused on the notion that News Corp. is somehow finding religion, when, actually, the interest in and by Beliefnet stems from the faith-based efforts already underway — Fox Faith films, publishers Zondervan and HarperOne, and, one I left out last night, the National Geographic cable network with its shows on religious history. Beliefnet and Fox started talks about two years ago but it wasn’t until recently that enough elements came together for each to be comfortable with a deal.
Broadband plays a major part. Given how hard and expensive it is to launch new cable nets, Fox sees broadband as a way to add channels.

For its part, Beliefnet gets the resources it needs to expand in a variety of ways. Waldman: “We provide content, some of which is community, some of which is broadband, some of which is text. The presence of video on the site, the size of the video offerings should be dramatically increased and improved.” As for distribution of Beliefnet content, Fawcett said, “We don

  1. Randy Warren Tuesday, April 8, 2008

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