First high-level exec shift since Liberty took 50% stake

HOLLYWOOD — Former Fox Family Channel and Nick at Nite topper Rich Cronin has taken over as prexy of the Sony/Liberty’s Game Show Network.

He replaces Michael Fleming, who has stepped down. Fleming had run the net since its inception six years ago.

Move marks the first high-level exec shift since Liberty Digital in February acquired a 50% stake in the net, formerly owned wholly by Sony Pictures Entertainment.

The companies jointly operate GSN, and Cronin will report to an SPE/Liberty management committee.

Despite strong backing from Sony — and now Liberty — as well as a rich library of quizzers, Game Show Network has yet to take off in the ratings. It’s seen in roughly 35 million homes.

Cronin says his vision for the network is to make GSN as powerful a brand with people who love games as ESPN is for people who love sports or CNN is for news junkies.

“I want to make the network bigger, younger, richer, happier, more famous, and more popular,” Cronin says.

Cronin abruptly left Fox Family last May after a two-year run at the cabler. He had been brought in to relaunch the former Family Channel as a new net geared toward kids and teens.

His deal to go to GSN has been in the works for several months.

Before moving to Fox Family in 1998, Cronin spent 14 years at MTV Networks, working in various sales and marketing posts and ultimately rising to the level of GM of Nick at Nite and the founding prexy of spinoff cabler TV Land.

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