Byrne In as Fox Sales Head

Toby Byrne has some big shoes to fill.

Fox Broadcasting has named Byrne president of sales, effective Jan. 1, when he’ll succeed Jon Nesvig, who is retiring.

Byrne will report to Fox Networks Group chairman and CEO Tony Vinciquerra. Byrne currently serves as Fox’s svp of Eastern sales.

In that capacity, he’s been an effective leader, but he now succeeds a sales legend in Nesvig, and at a time when the market is more complex and challenging than ever.

In a statement Vinciquerra said, “This decision was incredibly challenging. Jon has left us such a deep bench of extraordinary talent that any of our key sales executives would have been a tremendous choice. However, Toby’s management skills, broad understanding of new and traditional media, and outstanding communication skills closed the deal. We’re delighted he’ll be leading our sales efforts for years to come.”

After Nesvig’s pending retirement was confirmed by the network last month, there had been speculation that Nesvig might not be immediately replaced and that his duties might be split among more than one executive on the current Fox sales team. But Fox said today there were no changes planned for the structure of the sales operation.

Fox said other key sales executives would remain in their posts for now including Jean Rossi, who will continue to serve as president of Fox One (the company’s integrated marketing group) and evp of sales, Neil Mulcahy, who remains evp and head of the Fox Sports Ad Sales team. Susan Wachter will continue as evp, sales planning and administration, and Audrey Steele will remain svp, ad sales research and marketing. All will report to Byrne.

Byrne is a 15-year veteran of Fox’s sales staff, having originally joined the company in early 1996 as an account services representative. He was made an account executive in December of that year, became a vice president in 2003, and was promoted to his previous position supervising Eastern sales in January 2006. Prior to joining Fox, Byrne was a media buyer at BBDO in New York.