Kara Swisher

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News Corp.'s New Digital Lineup to Be Officially Announced Today

(UPDATED: With full News Corp. press release below)

news-corp-logo

News Corp. will officially announce its shaken-but-not-stirred digital lineup this morning, as former AOL head Jon Miller takes over as the media giant’s new chief digital officer.

And Peter Levinsohn–his predecessor at Fox Interactive Media, which Miller will inherit in a new form, along with a larger portfolio, all based in New York–will also officially take up his new post as the key digital exec at News Corp.’s film and television studios in California.

In the press release, the company said Miller “will be charged with driving digital strategy across News Corp. businesses.”

In a statement, News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch said: “Our focus moving forward is twofold: to enable our digital businesses to flourish as individual entities and to bolster the digital strategies of our core media properties by treating them as central to, and not separate from, the enterprise.”

The release went on to say that Miller will have sway over News Corp.’s standalone digital businesses, including MySpace, IGN Entertainment, Photobucket, as well as Jamba and the Hulu joint venture with NBC Universal, and will “collaborate with operational heads and digital executives through all lines of business around the globe to develop and refine digital efforts.”

Last Friday, BoomTown and others outlined the moves, part of Murdoch’s efforts to make significant changes related to how the company’s digital efforts are managed.

The shifts come in the wake of the previously announced upcoming departure of COO Peter Chernin, who was in charge of digital efforts at News Corp.

jonathan_miller_aol

Miller (pictured here), whose noncompete agreement with Time Warner (TWX) from his AOL stint just ran out, will report directly to Murdoch. Besides the chief digital officer title, he will also be chairman and CEO of the newly created News Digital Media group.

Levinsohn, a longtime News Corp. exec, is also getting a significant new job as president of new media and digital distribution at the Fox studios, coordinating delivery of its film and television assets on all mobile and digital platforms.

It will be his task to create sustainable advertising and other business models in this fast-moving arena, as well as create innovative new content for those platforms.

levinsohn

In his new post, Levinsohn (pictured here) will report to Jim Gianopulos and Tom Rothman, co-chairmen and CEOs of Fox Filmed Entertainment.

News Corp. said that Levinsohn will oversee “Fox Filmed Entertainment’s entire content portfolio across all digital distribution channels, including Hulu and third party platforms in the broadband, mobile and gaming markets. He will direct all policy decisions regarding new usage and business models, content protection, and will further develop the studio’s original and derivative content businesses by working with creative talent, distributors and brands to bring short and long-form digital entertainment to audiences worldwide.”

It’s definitely a complex, challenging job–although a big opportunity–for the affable Levinsohn, who never sought the limelight as some who worked for him have, most especially MySpace CEO and co-founder Chris DeWolfe.

Both previous FIM heads, Ross Levinsohn and Peter Levinsohn, many sources said, had to deal with DeWolfe’s own sphere of influence within News Corp. (NWS), especially his close ties to Murdoch. Both FIM and MySpace are located in Beverly Hills, Calif.

As I previously wrote, relations between DeWolfe and both those execs could be described, at best, as tense.

Miller now inherits that relationship at the social-networking site. And he must also navigate the complexities of the global media giant, as well as figure out ongoing relationships with digital companies, such as Google (GOOG), Microsoft (MSFT), Yahoo (YHOO) and his former company, Time Warner (TWX) unit AOL.

The same, of course, goes for Levinsohn.

And, especially with the weak economy, which often slows innovation at large companies, it is likely the pair will end up having to work together closely if News Corp. is to have a cohesive and successful digital strategy under the new set-up going forward.

(News Corp. owns Dow Jones, which owns this Web site.)

Here’s the press release, after the jump:

News Corporation Establishes Digital Leadership Roles

Jonathan Miller named Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Digital Media Group and Chief Digital Officer for News Corporation

Peter Levinsohn named President New Media and Digital Distribution, Fox Filmed Entertainment

New York, NY April 1, 2009–News Corporation Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Rupert Murdoch today announced the company has named former AOL CEO Jonathan Miller, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Digital Media Group and Chief Digital Officer for News Corporation. Based in New York and reporting directly to Mr. Murdoch, Mr. Miller, 52, will be charged with driving digital strategy across News Corp. businesses.

In this newly created role, Mr. Miller will direct News Corp.’s stand-alone digital businesses, including MySpace, IGN Entertainment, Photobucket, as well as Jamba and the Hulu joint venture with NBC Universal. He will also collaborate with operational heads and digital executives through all lines of business around the globe to develop and refine digital efforts.

“Our focus moving forward is twofold: to enable our digital businesses to flourish as individual entities and to bolster the digital strategies of our core media properties by treating them as central to, and not separate from, the enterprise,” Mr. Murdoch said. “With his strong background in media and entertainment, coupled with a deep understanding of the digital business, Jon Miller is–hands down–the best equipped executive to provide the vision, oversight and operational experience to truly transform our offerings.”

“’I'm fortunate to join the world’s most dynamic media company at a time when digital opportunities are shaping our business in new and exciting ways,” said Miller. “News Corporation has shown a unique ability to excel globally in all forms of media and I look forward to working with its leadership as we position the company for continued growth and innovation.”

Peter Levinsohn has been named to the new position of President New Media and Digital Distribution, Fox Filmed Entertainment, the unit that controls the company’s film and television content worldwide. He will report directly to Jim Gianopulos and Tom Rothman, chairmen and CEOs of Fox Filmed Entertainment.

Levinsohn will oversee Fox Filmed Entertainment’s entire content portfolio across all digital distribution channels, including Hulu and third party platforms in the broadband, mobile and gaming markets. He will direct all policy decisions regarding new usage and business models, content protection, and will further develop the studio’s original and derivative content businesses by working with creative talent, distributors and brands to bring short and long-form digital entertainment to audiences worldwide.

Mr. Murdoch said, “Peter Levinsohn did an extraordinary job running Fox Interactive Media, having steered MySpace’s trajectory to the world’s leading social media portal. He is the perfect executive to place at the heart of our global content business as we look to further exploit our movie and television properties over new and yet to be discovered platforms.”

“As one of the leading suppliers of content worldwide, we’ve made huge strides in giving consumers an array of choice when it comes to consuming digital content,” said Levinsohn. “I look forward to working with Jim and Tom and their teams to further our commitment to building distribution models that are both sustainable and durable over the long term.”

“With a newly minted portfolio that combines the absolute best in film and television entertainment, I’m thrilled to have Peter return to the studio to lead this very important initiative as we deepen our commitment to propel our digital businesses forward,” said Jim Gianopulos, co-chairman Fox Filmed Entertainment. Tom Rothman, co-chairman Fox Filmed Entertainment, said, “We look forward to leveraging Peter’s deep knowledge of emerging markets as we bolster our strategies to bring viewers new content built explicitly for these expanding platforms.”

Levinsohn, a 20-year News Corp. veteran, returns to the studio after running Fox Interactive Media, where he oversaw MySpace, IGN, Photobucket and FoxSports.com, among other web properties. Prior to Fox Interactive Media, Levinsohn held a number of senior positions at the company, including president of Fox Digital Media, and president of Worldwide Pay Television and Video on Demand for Fox Filmed Entertainment.

Mr. Miller was most recently a founding partner of Velocity Interactive Group, a digital media and communications investment firm. From 2002 to 2006, he served as Chairman and CEO of AOL, where he restructured the company’s core business lines, focusing on online advertising. Through his leadership, AOL delivered record annual profit growth of 21 percent and increased online advertising growth, the centerpiece of its new business model, by 46 percent. Previously, Miller was CEO and President of USA Information and Services, now IACI and Expedia (the company split in two in 2005), where he helped build industry-leading positions in such areas as online travel, ticketing, and electronic retailing.

Earlier in his career, Mr. Miller spent several years as Managing Director of Nickelodeon International, a unit of Viacom’s MTV Networks. He also served as the Chief Executive of Paramount’s first branded international channel, launching the Paramount Comedy Channel in London. He spent five years at NBA Entertainment where, as Vice President of Programming, he expanded the NBA’s TV production business as well as its overall brand image.


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