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Fox’s good sports

TV stations, regional sports web to pair up

Fox Television Stations is looking inside News Corp. to strike its first major duopoly arrangement.

The division will inherit sales oversight for Fox’s regional sports networks beginning this summer, in effect creating a broadcast-cable duopoly in a number of major markets.

For example, sales efforts in Los Angeles would combine KTTV, Fox Sports West and Fox Sports West 2. Fox will launch the combined force on July 1.

“We’ll get the financial most out of a duopoly situation without going out to spend (millions) to buy stations,” said Mitch Stern, chairman and CEO of the Fox Television Stations. “Instead of competing against one another … these two departments will allow the stations to present unique packages to advertisers.”

Jim Burke will handle both sides as president of sales for the 22 Fox Television Stations and the 11 regional Fox sports nets. Burke, who reports to Stern, had been exec VP of sales and marketing at the Fox TV stations since December 1996.

Burke will also oversee Internet marketing efforts at both the stations and sports networks.

Before joining Fox TV Stations, Burke was vice president and G.M. at Fox-owned outlets KTTV and WTTG Washington, D.C. He also served as general sales manager at KCBS Los Angeles.

“We can now offer our local and regional partners more customized access,” Burke said.

Besides sales and marketing consolidation, Fox stations and Fox sports webs are also exploring other cooperative arrangements, such as sharing sports anchors. As part of a new local-based focus on the regional channels, Fox Sports will produce regional sports newscasts that will be paired with a national sportscast.

Also, Stern said much of the regional sports webs’ program scheduling will be handled out of the local Fox-owned station.

Separately, Thomas Herwitz was named president of station operations at Fox Television Stations.

Herwitz, who had served as exec veep for Fox Television Stations, will continue to report to Stern. His duties continue to include oversight of operating procedures and business strategies at the division.

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