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News Corp Management Shakeup and AOL's New CEO

Thursday was a busy night for media giants. At News Corp, the weak ad markets, a struggling stock price, and the exit of the company's number two, is prompting a major restructuring and management shakeup.

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Rupert Murdoch is restructuring News Corp's Fox businesses, ahead of the departure of the company's President and COO Peter Chernin this summer. It's no coincidence that Chernin oversaw these entertainment divisions now making changes.

News Corp is combining its film and TV production divisions into one unit under Jim Gianopolous and Tom Rothman, who have been managing the company's movie studio. Peter Rice, head of the specialty film studio, Fox Searchlight, is being put in charge of the Fox Television Network, as its current head, Peter Liguori steps down. These two changes give movie studios execs new responsibilities over television. We'll see if that kind of management expertise translates from the big screen to the small screen.

In another TV business change, the company is combining all of its television networks under Tony VInciquerra. This expands Vinciquerra's responsibility beyond Fox's cable networks, to include every part of FOX Broadcasting, including programming.

Murdoch's strategy seems to be to expand the responsibility of successful executives, even if that means putting them in charge of businesses with which they have little experience.

There's no question that Chernin's loss will be felt deeply, now we'll have to see if the new chain of command helps things at all. The company is struggling with weak ad revenues and concerns about declining DVD sales, so presumably these consolidations should help cut costs.

Meanwhile Time Warner announced it's AOL division is getting a new boss. Current AOL Chairman and CEO Randy Falco and President and COO Ron Grant will leave the company, and Tim Armstrong, formerly Google Senior VIce President, will take the reigns. This is clearly a commentary on the struggles of this unit, both with its transition from a subscription service to being ad-supported, and with the current declines in ad revenue. CEO Jeff Bewkes must hope Armstrong will work some of his Google magic on AOL.

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