Hill rises in Rupe’s coop

Fox Sports exec ankles cabler for DirecTV

NEW YORK — David Hill is giving up day-to-day oversight of Rupert Murdoch’s Fox Sports to become president of the DirecTV Entertainment Group, one of three newly formed Murdoch divisions.

The two others are DirecTV Sales and Service, which John Suranyi will run as president, and DirecTV Latin America and New Enterprises, under president Bruce Churchill. Hill, Suranyi and Churchill all report to Chase Carey, prexy-CEO of DirecTV.

Hill appointment comes 10 days after DirecTV bounced president and CEO Mitch Stern after only 14 months on the job.

Asked about the drill at Fox Sports, Hill said, “I have total confidence that it will continue moving forward in the very capable hands of Ed Goren and Bob Thompson.” Goren continues as president of Fox Sports and Thompson as prexy of Fox Sports Network.

Although Hill will retain his title as chairman of Fox Sports, a DirecTV press release said he’ll operate in a “non-executive role.”

“I’ll have broad oversight of Fox Sports, but I’m giving 98% of my time to DirecTV,” he said.

At DirecTV, Hill will buy and commission original programming and work with the satellite distributor’s marketing and promotion execs to get more people subscribing to the service.

Hill hopes to make an impact by rolling out technological innovations to DirecTV subscribers at a faster pace. He said one of his first calls will be to the owners of National Football League teams, seeking their help in “enhancing the visual experience of DirecTV subscribers” who buy the Sunday Ticket out-of-market NFL games, which are exclusive to DirecTV.

More high-definition transmission is in the works, along with interactivity that would allow subscribers to call up information while they’re watching games.

“This job is taking me back to my roots,” Hill said. “Back in 1989, I was one of two or three guys who started Sky Television.” He spent more than five years at Sky as it changed into BSkyB, eventually becoming a big earnings generator within the News Corp. empire.

Hill and Carey were present at the creation of Fox Sports in the U.S., a division that has grown to encompass 14 regional sports networks and a sales and programming entity called Fox Sports Net, which produces more than 4,700 live events each year.

As head of sales and service, Suranyi will oversee the call center, supply chain and installation services. His previous title was exec VP of customer satisfaction.

Churchill’s old titles, which he held jointly, were chief financial officer of the DirecTV Group and president of DirecTV Latin America. While continuing in the Latin America role, he’ll work on DirecTV’s broadband strategy in both the U.S. and Latin America.

In the final piece of the reorganization, Mike Palkovic, chief financial officer for DirecTV Inc., takes on CFO duties for the entire organization, which includes Latin America.

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