Fox shuffles sports nets, promotes execs


NEW YORK -- Fox on Wednesday announced the reorganization of its cable sports channels, giving more responsibilities to the division's two senior executives.

Bob Thompson has been named president of Fox National Cable Sports Networks from his previous position at Fox Sports Networks. Fox Sports Networks chief operating officer Randy Freer has been named president of Fox Regional Cable Sports Networks. Both will continue to report to Tony Vinciquerra, president and CEO of the Fox Networks Group.

Fox's sports networks have grown by leaps and bounds during the past several years, with the creation of several regional sports channels along with the acquisition of the Speed channel several years ago and last year's acquisition of Turner South. It has grown even further with the joint venture the Big Ten Network, another nationwide sports channel.

In an interview Wednesday, Vinciquerra said he had been thinking of streamlining the organization in recent months and had a good opportunity when Fox Cable Networks recently took over the ad-sales functions for the national and regional sports networks. (That had previously been with the local television stations.) Those ad sales responsibilities will fall under Freer.

"We had two excellent executives that we were underutilizing a bit," said Vinciquerra, referring to Freer and Thompson.

Fox owns 18 regional cable sports networks, including FSN South, FSN Southwest and two recently created channels, FSN Houston and FSN Indiana to divide them market by market. It also operates others in the Rocky Mountain States, Pittsburgh and elsewhere.

"I think it's a great business (regional sports). It's one we have tremendous skill with, that we focus on and know how to manage," Vinciquerra said. "These are not for the faint of heart. These are very management intensive but we know them extremely well."

Thompson's domain will be the national cable channels including Speed, Fox Soccer Channel, Fox Sports en Espanol, Fuel, Fox College Sports and the Big Ten Network. He also is the president of Fox Sports International.