Fox and the hounds

In a major restructuring of its News Digital Media unit, News Corp. will relinquish control of its Fox-branded news, sports and entertainment Web sites, returning the reins to its TV counterparts.

Transition is expected to take up to six months, with about half of News Digital Media’s 450 Los Angeles-based employees laid off during that time.

News Digital Media has spent the last two years serving as an incubator for FoxNews.com, FoxSports.com, FoxMarketwire.com and Fox.com. Move is expected to save News Corp. tens of millions of dollars.

With the new structure, Fox News Channel, Fox Sports and Fox Broadcasting will oversee daily operations of the sites, which now are being viewed more as marketing tools and not major revenue generators for the company.

Fox’s television networks originally oversaw their own Web sites but gave up control in 1999 when News Digital Media was formed to consolidate its new-media assets in Los Angeles.

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