Primary founder of DirecTV to be topper of Moviefly

HOLLYWOOD — Jim Ramo, a primary founder and exec VP of DirecTV, has been named CEO of Moviefly, the multistudio movies-on-demand service planned for introduction in the second half of this year.

The service, a joint venture of MGM, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Universal Studios and Warner Bros., has also officially been named Movielink. The company is looking to move into a permanent Los Angeles HQ from its temporary location in Westwood.

The Movielink board, comprising representatives from each of the five equity partners, reportedly narrowed its search to Ramo in December.

“The selection of Jim as CEO and the Movielink name complete two critical next steps in the development of the service,” the board said in a statement.

Ramo said that although the joint venture partners are set, Movielink would welcome programming from Fox and Disney, which are developing a separate movies-on-demand service through Disney’s Movies.com.

“Movielink is in the business of delivering high-value film/video content in a video-on-demand format and will license content from many suppliers. If you want to do that, I would think you want to talk to Fox and Disney,” Ramo said. But there are no plans to meet with them at this time, he noted.

He said that Movielink is moving ahead on its own time schedule, continuing to work out technical infrastructure issues involving hosting and content management.

“Our job is to get the business up and going in order to drive the continuing development of VOD. We’re not focused on any competitors, per se.”

Ramo says the company is also seeking marketing alliances with broadband cable, satellite and Internet services.

An investigation by the Dept. of Justice into potential antitrust issues involving the two VOD services will not be an impediment to the plans of Movielink. Ramo said nothing has changed since Movielink’s partners began “proactive, informal conversations” with the DOJ. “Everyone is providing materials,” he said.

The venture, announced Aug. 16, will create an open-access Internet-based system for the delivery of a wide selection of recent and catalog movies on a nonexclusive basis. Each content provider will independently determine its own release windows and pricing strategies. Movielink will be available only in the U.S.

Ramo was at DirecTV from 1990 to ’97, following five years as VP at DirecTV parent Hughes Communications. He was chief operating officer of the TVN Entertainment satellite service and CEO of Geocast Network Systems from 1997 to 2000.

Most recently, Ramo was in residence at Movielink Shelter Ventures, consulting for various communications companies and initiating investment opportunities in new media for the $200 million fund.

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