Starz taps vet Clasen sales prexy

Former Comcast president takes over sales, marketing

NEW YORK — John Malone’s Starz Encore Group hired Robert Clasen , a cable-industry heavyweight for more than two decades, as president of sales and marketing.

Clasen, 58, who runs his own company out of San Diego, worked recently with high-tech companies like Broadband Innovations, where as chairman he recruited the management team. Clasen reports to Starz Encore’s Denver headquarters July 21, succeeding Que Spaulding, 63, who plans to retire but will stay on until the end of the year to ease the transition.

Spaulding, a 13-year veteran of Starz Encore, said he’s cheerleading for Malone, chairman of Liberty Media, to win the bidding for Vivendi Universal.

What Viv U would give Starz Encore is “a downstream distribution network,” said Spaulding, which would come with Viv U’s basic-cable channels USA and Sci Fi. That would put Starz Encore for the first time on a par with its pay-TV competitors HBO, which has TBS, TNT, The WB and Cartoon; and Showtime, which has CBS, UPN, MTV, TNN and TV Land.

Spaulding said a Liberty takeover of Viv U would also provide Starz Encore with “an upstream supplier” for the first time, namely Universal Studios.

Clasen previously was president and CEO of Comcast Cable Communications and president of Comcast Intl. Holdings.

As part of the restructuring, Jillaina Wachendorf gets a promotion to executive VP of affiliate sales and marketing.

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