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Bigger roles ahead for Fox's Peter Rice, David Hill

New programming assignments are said to be on tap in Chase Carey's News Corp. streamlining plan.

January 12, 2010|By Meg James

Fox television's top entertainment executive, Peter Rice, will probably see his responsibilities grow beyond the flagship broadcast network into cable programming as part of a management restructuring at News Corp., according to people familiar with the situation.

In addition, Fox Sports Chairman David Hill -- a longtime lieutenant of News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch -- is expected to take over programming of such cable channels as Speed and Fox's collection of regional sports networks. Hill currently oversees Fox's coverage of NFL games, Major League Baseball and NASCAR.

The moves are part of News Corp. Chief Operating Officer Chase Carey's plans to streamline operations and consolidate TV programming under Hill and Rice, according to people who asked not to be identified because the plans have not been finalized. Carey declined to comment.

The changes may not bode well for Fox Networks Group Chief Executive Tony Vinciquerra, who was hired by Carey's successor, Peter Chernin, and in March was given responsibility for all television programming.

Under the proposed scenario, Vinciquerra would be further removed from programming decisions. Yet Vinciquerra would continue to oversee Rice, Hill and Fox International Channels CEO David Haslingden.

Rice until last March was head of the company's specialty movie label, Fox Searchlight. Now, in addition to Fox Broadcasting, he will be responsible for programming the FX channel.

In the last year, News Corp.'s organizational chart has undergone plenty of shuffling. In February, Chernin announced he was leaving as president and Murdoch, 78, reordered his troops. Rice moved to the television network, prompting observers to predict that he was being groomed for a bigger job within the company.

Then, in July, Murdoch brought Carey back to the company. Carey, who had been running DirecTV, became the boss of many of the people who, just a few months before, had been assigned to Murdoch -- including Vinciquerra.

It was unclear Monday what the moves mean for Rich Battista, who for nearly 18 months has served as president of the Fox cable networks overseeing FX, National Geographic Channel, Fuel and Speed.

meg.james@latimes.com

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