David Haslingden to Step Down as President and COO of Fox Networks

Division's Peter Rice in charge after last month's reorg

Fox Networks Group chairman David Haslingden is set to step down at the end of the calendar year, News Corp. announced today. Haslingden has been president and COO of the division—which includes FX, National Geographic Channel, NatGeo Wild, Fuse and Fox's international channels—since January 2011. He will return to Australia.

Haslingden hasn't been long in the driver's seat. When he replaced Tony Vinciquerra as the company's top executive last year, many were sorry to see his predecessor go; Vinciquerra bargained for millions in retrans fees and helped to drive the cable unit's profitability, but was shorn of responsibilities after the 2009 exit of Peter Chernin.

Haslingden's brief tenure hasn't been marked by many major changes. The exec moved into the top position at the cable group after a decade-long tenure as CEO of Fox International Channels and National Geographic Channels Worldwide. He installed David Lyle at NatGeo, an appointment that has moved the network toward the style of content that airs on sister channel NatGeo Wild, and expanded Fox's international footprint at a time when there's serious money to be made in the overseas market in several countries that are creating fiber-optic infrastructure.

But Haslingden got a new boss last month in the form of Peter Rice, now chairman and CEO. Haslingden stopped reporting directly to News Corp. No. 2 Chase Carey as Rice was installed between the two men.

News Corp. cited family obligations in a statement issued to press on Wednesday. "[A]s terrific as Fox and National Geographic are, my family is by far my greatest love, and being away from them for almost two years is long enough," Haslingden said in the release. "I’m delighted to be on my way home.”

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