Fox forges international format sales force

Fox Reality Channel president David Lyle will run new unit

Fox Networks Group is launching a unit dedicated to the exploitation of Fox's broadcast and cable unscripted formats internationally, tapping Fox Reality Channel president David Lyle to run it.

Called Fox Look, the division will represent internationally new unscripted formats from Fox Broadcasting Co. and Fox cable networks, including National Geographic, FX and Speed. It will license them, partner with foreign production companies to co-produce local versions or handle the production itself by launching production entities in some countries.

Additionally, the new unit -- the first of its kind at a major TV studio -- will take over the unscripted formats in the 20th Century Fox library, including "Temptation Island," "Beauty and the Geek," "My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance" and "Celebrity Spelling Bee."

Lyle will introduce Look to foreign broadcasters and producers at the upcoming MIP market.

The division, to be based in Los Angeles with additional staffers in several foreign territories, will exist alongside Twentieth Century Fox Television Distribution, which handled scripted and unscripted formats internationally.

TCFTD now will focus entirely on scripted fare, with some of its employees transitioning to Look.

Lyle will report to FNG chairman and CEO Tony Vinciquerra and will work closely with TCFTD president of international television Marion Edwards.

Vinciquerra called Lyle "an expert in the international format business" and praised his passion for the industry.

Lyle said he had been discussing the idea with Fox brass for some time.

"I don't think we've positioned ourselves to get the full value of formats on the cable and the broadcast side," he said. "There was an opportunity to do that with a dedicated group that would take them to the international marketplace."

Mike Darnell, Fox's president of alternative programming, welcomed the creation of "a distribution arm dedicated solely to our shows."

"I'm encouraged that our hits will be enjoyed by millions of additional viewers," he said.

Lyle begins at Look on Thursday after wrapping a five-year stint as president of Fox Reality Channel, which is being replaced Thursday morning by Nat Geo Wild, a spinoff from the Nat Geo Channel.

"I've found Fox to be a terrific entrepreneurial place to work," he said. "And it was important to stay at the company so I didn't have to change my e-mail address."

Lyle's career spans 25 years across more than 20 countries. The Sydney native, who started off as an exploration geologist before segueing to the TV business, has been president of entertainment at FremantleMedia North America, worldwide head of acquisition and development at Pearson Television and head of development at Australia's Nine Network.