Odyssey homers in vet FitzPatrick for prexy

First goal is to raise subscriber base

NEW YORK — The Odyssey Channel has signed veteran cable exec Paul FitzPatrick as chief operating officer.

FitzPatrick’s most recent post was prexy and COO of the Golf Channel, and he and his family are moving from Jackson Hole, Wyo., to Los Angeles, where he’ll be based.

As a first priority, FitzPatrick, 54, said he’s hell-bent on increasing Odyssey’s subscriber base to well beyond its current 28 million homes, which pales in comparison to the general-entertainment networks with which it competes: USA, TNT and Lifetime all reach close to 80 million households.

The areas reporting to FitzPatrick are affiliates sales, community relations, business affairs, finance and administration, ad sales, operations and human resources. Programming and marketing will continue to be the responsibility of Margaret Loesch, prexy and CEO of Odyssey.

FitzPatrick succeeds Lana Corbi, who shifted to COO of Odyssey’s co-parent company Crown Media Holdings three months ago. Before Golf Channel, FitzPatrick was president and CEO of NewsTalk TV, which was bought by MSNBC and folded in 1996. From 1991-93, he was president and COO of the Weather Channel, and earlier he was prexy and COO of C-SPAN.

Odyssey’s second parent is the German company EM.TV & Merchandising, owner of the Jim Henson Co. Strategic investors in Crown include John Malone’s Liberty Media, the National Interfaith Cable Coalition and KirchMedia.

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