Roberta Mell Leaves as New TV Season Begins Rollout

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LOS ANGELES ( -- Just weeks before the start of the traditional fall TV season, the Fox network's head of marketing has opted out of her contract.

Roberta Mell, who had been Fox's executive vice president of marketing for the past two years, said she is leaving her post today.

Fox executives declined to comment and wouldn't say if they are actively searching for a replacement. Fox is a unit of News Corp.

Ms. Mell said she has no immediate plans, but in her next job wants to explore the "collaboration between technology, entertainment and branding." She had a year remaining on her contract.

Stability to the job
In a job that was once a revolving door, Ms. Mell had provided some stability to the network when she arrived in 2002 after a dozen years in marketing at HBO, part of Time Warner. She helped shepherd ratings improvements that took it to within one-tenth of a ratings point behind the industry leader NBC in the advertiser-coveted 18- to 49-year-old demographic. The previous Fox marketing chief, Senn Moses, who had no prior TV experience, stayed only a few months. The job was vacant for nearly two years after his departure and before Ms. Mell was hired.

While at Fox, Ms. Mell helped launch the now-hot sudsy dramedy The OC, along with reality staples such as The Simple Life and American Idol.

The network, under Fox TV Entertainment president Gail Berman, has made year-round launches of TV shows a priority, though several new shows have failed to catch on with young viewers. The exception has been The Simple Life, which continues to prop up the network'smid-week schedule.

Strategies in place
The marketing department has several senior executives who handle on-air branding and off-channel strategies. Marketing plans are in the works or largely set for upcoming Fox shows such as the boxing-centric reality series The Next Great Champ, business reality shows The Partner and Billionaire, and makeover-meets-relationship-test The Complex.

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