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News Corp. Shakes Up Fox Networks Group; Vinciquerra Out; Memos

Tony Vinciquerra is leaving News Corp (NSDQ: NWS). next month — likely for the “entrepreneurial” life — after eight years as chairman and CEO of the Fox Networks Group, setting the stage for a major reorganization of the group. The move gives News Corp. COO Chase Carey the chance to put his full stamp on the group and to manage it directly. Instead of naming a new CEO, David Haslingden, current CEO of the Fox International Channels, will take over most of the business duties as president and COO reporting to Carey. Affiliate head Mike Hopkins adds digital to his portfolio while Fox Sports chief David Hill’s duties will expand to include managing its National Geographic JV. More details below in memos from Carey and Vinciquerra.


Chase Carey’s Memo to Staff

Dear Colleagues:
We are announcing today that Tony Vinciquerra, who has been Chairman and CEO of the Fox Networks Group since 2002, has decided to leave the Company on February 11th.

Over the past decade, Tony has made many significant contributions to our organization, chief among them helping to build our cable portfolio into one of News Corporation’s biggest growth drivers. We all owe Tony a ebt of gratitude for everything he has done to get us to the enviable position we hold today.

We are fortunate to have in place a uniquely talented group of executives across FNG, so we are restructuring our operations to expand the portfolios of some of our key executives, giving them direct responsibility for developing their businesses.

Following Tony’s departure, David Haslingden will become President and COO of the Fox Networks Group. David has done a great job growing our Fox International Channels business into a valuable asset and we have every confidence he will excel in shaping the future of FNG. He, along with David Hill, Chairman and CEO of Fox Sports Media Group; Peter Rice, Chairman Entertainment, FNG; and Mike Hopkins, President of Affiliate Sales and Marketing for Fox Cable, will all report to me going forward.

We all know it’s a critical time for the networks business, with digital technologies upending long-held business models. We are facing these challenges from a position of great strength and now is the time for us to make some bets and take some risks… some intelligent risks. With this team of leaders in place at FNG, we are ready to do just that. Below is more detail on our new organization:
David Haslingden will have responsibility for all the corporate functions of FNG, including our strategic business development, finance, legal, advertising sales, networks engineering & operations and communications teams.

David Hill will gain oversight of our domestic joint venture with National Geographic Channels, bringing his production expertise to bear on this growing asset.

Randy Freer and Eric Shanks will work together to manage our sports cable channels portfolio, reporting to David Hill.

Peter Rice will continue in his current role running entertainment for FNG.

Mike Hopkins will continue heading affiliate sales and marketing for the cable channels. He will also be responsible for developing digital strategies for the networks of FNG, which will be a key issue for us in the coming quarters. In addition, he will gain oversight of network distribution at FBC. Jon Hookstratten will report to Mike.

Hernan Lopez will have sole day-to-day oversight of Fox International Channels, reporting to David Haslingden.

I look forward to working with this team and all of you as we enter this new year.

Chase Carey

From Tony Vinciquerra

To My Colleagues at FNG, FBC, Fox Sports, Fox International Channels and NE&O:

It is with extraordinarily mixed feelings that I tell you February 11 will be my last day at Fox. It has been an amazing 10 years working with this wonderful company and the many exceptionally talented people within all of our groups.

We have achieved many milestones over the past decade for which I will be forever grateful to you and to Rupert, Chase Carey and Peter Chernin. We have seen the emergence of FX as a creative power in cable programming. We have grown our Regional Sports Networks into the most dominant supplier of local sports telecasts in the country. Fox Sports is now the place to go to see the Big Events and it is slated to add many more to its roster over the next years. We’ve served as an industry catalyst, driving the evolution of standard definition to high definition television. FBC has been the most formidable network in the history of broadcast television, winning more years in a row than any other network, and it appears we will add to that run this year and next with the addition of X Factor.

We have launched from green fields many businesses that have grown to be successful in their own right, channels like The Big Ten Network, Fox Reality Channel and its transition into National Geographic Wild, Fuel, and Utilissima. And our FIC business has grown to be the most successful international group in the industry and shows no signs of slowing down.

Moreover, through the focused teamwork and determination of all our groups working together, we’ve changed the financial structure of broadcast television in America to ensure it continues to grow and thrive.

I’ve decided now is the time for me to do something different — probably more entrepreneurial in nature — and I am excited to begin down that path. This is something I’ve thought about for some time and, with our strong competitive position and seasoned team of leaders in place, it is the right time to take the plunge. At the same time, it is very difficult to transition from the daily interactions I have with so many of you. We’ve built deep and trusting relationships over these very exciting years and I leave with the knowledge that I will remain in contact with you.

Most of all, my thoughts are centered around the fact that these incredible organizations we have built are now in the hands of extremely capable executives, each of which I have had the good fortune to work alongside and in whom I have the greatest confidence. You have shown your mettle in the best and most difficult of circumstances and have worked tirelessly (literally) for the betterment of Fox and News Corporation. For that, I am very proud of what you have accomplished and look forward to watching your continued growth, both personally and as a business. And if a war ever starts, I want to be on your side!!

Thanks again for all the fun, the trials, the tribulations, I will be forever proud to say I was your leader for a time…

And please always remember, you can do well, by doing good.

All my best to all of you in 2011 and beyond.