NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Peter Liguori, the Fox network entertainment executive who helped the TV outlet surge ahead of its rivals to become the nation's most-watched network, will leave the News Corp. business as part of a restructuring, the company said.
News Corp. said Mr. Liguori, chairman-entertainment, would step down immediately. "Peter Liguori has been an outstanding Fox executive, not only in leading [Fox Broadcasting Co.] for three seasons, but in his groundbreaking programming that helped build FX into a general entertainment leader. We wish him continued success," News Corp. chief Rupert Murdoch said in a statement. A company spokeswoman declined to comment beyond the news release.
A revamping of News Corp.'s Los Angeles-based entertainment operations has been expected since the company announced last month that Peter Chernin, the company's president and chief operating officer, would leave his post this June. Mr. Chernin supervised the Fox entertainment networks as well as the Fox movie studio. Mr. Murdoch will have more direct reports from the company's entertainment operations, meaning he will get more involved in that aspect of the business even as he contends with other challenges, such as the company's newspapers and its continued integration and transformation of The Wall Street Journal.
News Corp. will combine its film and TV production studios, which will report to Jim Gianopulos and Tom Rothman, co-chairmen of Fox Filmed Entertainment. On the TV network side of the business, Tony Vinciquerra, chairman of the Fox Networks Group, will continue to head the cable networks, the business aspects of Fox Broadcasting and Fox International Channels, and will also take responsibility for Fox Broadcasting programming.
News Corp. said Peter Rice, president of Fox Searchlight, will exit his post at the specialty studio, and take on the role of chairman of entertainment, Fox Broadcasting, reporting to Mr. Vinciquerra. "As we increasingly look to apply unconventional approaches to our traditional businesses, I'm convinced Peter Rice is the right person to transform our broadcast TV business," Mr. Murdoch said in the statement.
Under Mr. Liguori's aegis, Fox surged not only to victory among adults 18 to 49 in 2008 but to become the nation's most-watched broadcast network for the first time.
More recently, he has had to contend with keeping Fox megahit "American Idol" fresh as it enters its eighth year; rebooting spy drama "24" after more than year off the air; and experimenting with a new ad format for two of Fox's debut programs, "Fringe" and "Dollhouse," so they contained fewer commercials than the normal network drama. Marketers paid a premium for the restricted ad time.
Mr. Gianopulos, Mr. Rothman and Mr. Vinciquerra will report directly to Mr. Murdoch. Peter Levinsohn, president of Fox Interactive Media, will also report directly to Mr. Murdoch.
Roger Ailes, chairman-CEO of Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network and chairman of the Fox Television Stations and Twentieth Television, will continue to report to Mr. Murdoch.