David Hill will transition to a News Corp-wide role. This Peter Rice promotion ends Peter Rice Fox Networks Groupmonths of recent speculation that the Chairman of Entertainment for Fox Networks Group, who’s been on a very fast track inside Fox and News Corp, would move immediately into Peter Chernin‘s old role heading both film and television. Don’t forget that Rice began working at Fox as a summer intern in 1989. And that he and Rupert Murdoch have a very special relationship. I’ve been told that Rice’s father helped Rupert conquer the newspaper unions once upon a time, and, as a result, Murdoch looks upon Peter like a son. So the conventional wisdom is that Peter Rice is being groomed to be the next Peter Chernin or Chase Carey. And to do that No. 2 News Corp job, he’s got to know TV inside and out. It wasn’t that long ago that Rice was upped from Fox Searchlight to Fox Broadcasting’s Entertainment Chairman and then his duties expanded to oversee programming for the broadcast network as well as FX. Rice has earned the reputation within News Corp as a key creative type. As Murdoch once said about Rice, “Peter has the vision, creativity and determination.” Spoken like a proud surrogate father. Here’s the announcement:

News Corp Peter RiceNEW YORK – JULY 23, 2012 – News Corporation today announced a restructuring of the senior leadership team that oversees the Company’s media and entertainment properties.  Peter Rice, who has served as Chairman of Entertainment for Fox Networks Group (FNG) since 2010, has been elevated to Chairman and CEO of FNG, where he will oversee  all programming and operations for the group, which includes Fox Broadcasting Company, Fox Sports Media Group, FX, Fox International Channels and the National Geographic Channels.

David Hill, who has served as Chairman and CEO of Fox Sports since 1999, has been elevated to Senior Executive Vice President, News Corporation.  In this new role Mr. Hill will focus on programming, digital initiatives and other opportunities spanning the breadth of the Company’s operating units across Latin America, Asia, Australia, Europe and the U.S.  Mr. Hill will be based in Los Angeles.

David Haslingden, President and COO of FNG; and Mike Hopkins, President of Distribution for FNG, both of whom previously reported to Mr. Carey, will now report to Mr. Rice.  Randy Freer and Eric Shanks, Co-Presidents of Fox Sports Media Group (FSMG), who previously reported to Mr. Hill, will also report to Mr. Rice.  Kevin Reilly, President of Entertainment for Fox Broadcasting Company, and John Landgraf, President and GM of FX, will continue to report to Mr. Rice.

Prior to his post as Chairman of Entertainment, Mr. Rice was President of Fox Searchlight, where he served as the driving force behind the success of the specialty film genre, bringing to the screen some of the industry’s most successful and award-winning films, including Slumdog Millionaire, The Wrestler, Little Miss Sunshine, Sideways and Juno. Before that, as Executive Vice President of Production for Twentieth Century Fox, he worked on a wide range of films including Moulin Rouge, Romeo & Juliet and X-Men.

In commenting on the promotions, Chase Carey, News Corporation President and COO said: “The contributions that Peter has made to News Corporation over the years are immeasurable.  Peter has proven himself at both the Fox Entertainment Networks, and Fox Searchlight before, to be one of the most innovative and strategic leaders in the entertainment industry.”

Mr. Carey continued: “David has proven himself to be one of the true visionaries in sports and entertainment across three continents during the last three decades and most recently has helped energize our National Geographic Channels. As we continue to grow our content brands across the world, David’s unique leadership and experience will be invaluable.”

“I am honored to work closely with the excellent executive team at FNG to lead these businesses into their next phase and am grateful to Rupert, Chase and James for this amazing opportunity,” said Mr. Rice.  “The talented artists, powerful brands, franchises and live events we have in place across our channels are unrivaled in the media business, and will serve as an invaluable foundation as we embark on another wave of incremental growth.”

“After 30 years spent building our sports businesses into global leaders, I’ve been eager to dive into a broader role that enables me to hunt down untapped programming, investment and digital opportunities all over the world.  From sports rights in emerging markets to new overseas digital channels, this new role will allow me to explore and experiment with new programming concepts across the whole of News Corporation in a completely new way,” said Mr. Hill.  “I am immensely proud of the work
we’ve done to revolutionize the television business, both in the U.S. and in Europe, and I leave Fox Sports in an amazing position, with a great team in place led by Randy and Eric.”

David Hill has been Chairman and CEO of Fox Sports since 1999, leading what has been America’s No. 1 sports network for 13 consecutive years.  Previously, Mr. Hill served as Chairman and CEO of Fox Broadcasting Company from 1997 to 1999, overseeing all programming and operations for the network.  In 1993, armed with Fox’s new NFL television rights deal, Hill arrived in the U.S. and served as Fox Sports’ founding President.  He previously held several News Corp. posts in the U.K. In 1988, he helped launch Sky Television and Eurosport and later took charge of BSkyB Sports Channel, creating Sky Sports in 1991.