In a major shakeup at Fox’s broadcasting and cable units, Tony Vinciquerra, veteran chairman and CEO of the Fox Networks Group, has said that he will be stepping down from his post effective Feb. 11.
In a note to staffers, Vinciquerra indicated that the time had come “to do something different,” adding that he was leaning toward a more entrepreneurial venture. “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,” Vinciquerra wrote. “At the same time, it is very difficult to transition from the daily interactions I have with so many of you.”
In the wake of the 10-year veteran’s departure, David Haslingden, CEO of Fox’ international channels, will become president and COO of the Fox Networks Group.
News Corp. chief operating officer Chase Carey confirmed the succession, telling employees that the network org chart will be restructured in order to give top executives direct oversight of their respective operations.
“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,” Carey wrote in a separate memo. “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.”
Under the new structure, Haslingden will have responsibility for all corporate functions of FNG, including strategic business development, finance, legal, advertising sales, networks engineering and operations and communications teams. Hill will gain oversight of National Geographic Channels, while Randy Freer and Eric Shanks will co-manage the Fox Sports media group.
Rice and Hopkins will continue to serve in their respective capacities, although the latter will add responsibility for digital development to his plate, as well as distribution for Fox Business Channel.
Vinciquerra said he will leave the various operations in “extremely capable” hands. A source close to the departing executive said the decision to leave was Vinciquerra’s alone.
The news comes as Fox’s broadcasting unit is struggling to find its feet, having endured double-digit ratings declines since the fall TV season began. Per Nielsen data for the first 15 weeks of the season, Fox has fallen 14 percent in total viewers and 16 percent among the 18-49 demo. Through Jan. 2, Fox ranks last among total viewers in prime (7.51 million), and is third among the core TV demo, with a 2.7 rating.
That said, Fox generally comes on strong in the first quarter, when it returns its American Idol franchise.
The cable business has been booming for Fox, however. In its most recent earnings call, News Corp. disclosed that its cable networks saw ad revenue increase 20 percent over the prior-year period, while affiliate revenue was up 40 percent.