Russian Network Hires Former NFL Exec for Sports Channel Launch

Moscow - H - 2015
Associated Press

He will help to launch Match TV, a national sports network owned by Gazprom.

Former NFL Network head of programming Charles Coplin has been hired to take part in developing a new Russian national sports channel, ordered by President Vladimir Putin and run by the natural gas giant Gazprom's media wing.

A spokesperson for Gazprom Media confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter that Coplin has been hired.

"He is already in Moscow and his contract and responsibilities are being finalized," she said.

Coplin also indicated Gazprom Media as his new employer on his LinkedIn profile, saying that he will provide consulting for the new channel's programming, production and marketing.

Match TV, a free-to-air channel that is to go on air on Sept. 1, is to use the frequency previously occupied by Rossiya 2, which Gazprom bought from another state-run broadcaster, VGTRK.

Coplin was NFL/NFL Network's head of programming from 2001 to 2010, after which he oversaw media content and broadcast relationships for NHL for three years.

It is a rather uncommon situation for a Western TV producer to be hired by a Russian broadcaster.

The only other recent example is longtime Fox News producer Jack Hanick, who until recently was general producer of the Orthodox Christian network Tsargrad TV. According to most recent Russian press reports, Hanick no longer occupies that position but stays with the network as a consultant.