Exec to o'see strategic scheduling for the net

Former NBC scheduling czar Preston Beckman, who ankled the Peacock in March, is joining Fox Broadcasting Co. as executive vice president for strategic program planning (Daily Variety, May 25).

Beckman will be in charge of all strategic scheduling for the net, including series launches and sweeps events. He’ll also work to advance Fox’s plans for year-round programming and identify the web’s future programming needs.

Appointment is the first for newly tapped Fox Entertainment prexy Gail Berman, to whom Beckman will report.

“Preston has a very long and distinguished track record in television, but he also possesses a bit of the renegade spirit that makes him a perfect fit for Fox,” Berman said. “We’re planning to provide our audience with not only an alternative brand of programming, but also try to bring it to them in more unconventional and exciting ways.”

Beckman spent almost 20 years at NBC, most recently as exec VP for program planning and scheduling. He joined the Peacock in 1980 as a management associate in television network research; he later moved into daytime and Saturday morning research, serving as a manager and a director. He was named veep of aud research for NBC East Coast in July 1989.

“At this stage in my career, I’m really looking forward to what I consider a very exciting new opportunity,” Beckman said. “I have always admired the Fox sensibility, reflected in both its programs and showmanship, and look forward to once again working with a team that both celebrates and encourages risk-taking and innovation in primetime television.”

While Beckman considered other offers after leaving NBC, he said a job at a Big Four web made the most sense.

“I know what I do,” he said. “This is a place for me to get back into the middle of the game.”

Suzanne Horenstein, who had been the top exec in charge of program planning and scheduling at Fox, will now report to Beckman.

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