News Corps’ digital shuffle: Miller in charge for the conglomerate, Levinsohn for the studio

PeterLevinsohn
News Corp. is shuffling digital executives as part of its new structure, bringing in a fresh face for the congom and moving back a veteran to its studio.

Details are still spotty, but based on reporting by Deadline Hollywood and AllThingsD, it looks like there are two major changes: Peter Levinsohn (right) is moving from his current job job as president of Fox Interactive Media, in which he oversees the conglomerate’s online properties, most notably MySpace, IGN, Fox.com and FoxSports.com, back to the studio, where he used to work as president of digital media. According to AllThingsD, Levinsohn’s job will be to “coordinate the delivery [Fox] assets on mobile and digital platforms,
sources said. It will be his task to create sustainable business models
in this fast-moving arena.”

Actually, that’s pretty much what he did before moving over to FIM in 2005. When he took that job, Variety reported that Levinsohn had been “a key architect in the digital revenue-sharing agreement with Fox
affiliates… he also led the Fox on Demand effort, which brought
primetime series to the Internet… [and]’s
headed Fox’s development of the VOD business and electronic
sell-through for film and television product.” Of course, today digital media is a much bigger deal for a movie/TV studio and you can bet chairmen Jim Gianopolus and Tom Rothman, to whom Levinsohn will report, will be paying a lot more attention than they did four years ago and counting on him to helm them juice some real growth.

Nonetheless, there’s no avoiding the fact that it’s at best a lateral move. Levinsohn used to be in charge of a separate unit and report directly to Rupert Murdoch. Now he’s a senior executive within a unit and reports to the guys who run it, not world’s richest Aussie.

JonMiller
Levinsohn is moving so that Jonathan Miller (left, in what I hope will become his official photo at News Corp), the former chairman/CEO of AOL, can take his job and then some. In his old job, Miller transitioned AOL from a subscription-based ISP with a Web component to an advertising-based Web portal with an ISP component, but didn’t make the shift quickly and smoothly enough for his Time Warner bosses, who replaced him with Randy Falco (himself recently replaced by Google’s Tim Armstrong).

Miller’s new title will reportedly be chief digital officer, reporting directly to Murdoch as Levinsohn did. But his portfolio will be bigger, encompassing not just the FIM properties, but also overseeing digital initiatives for every New Corp property.

Including Fox? One of the big questions now is how and whether Levinsohn and Miller work together. Will Levinsohn be in charge of his own digital strategy? Will he have to coordinate with Miller? And even though they have separate reporting lines on paper, which one will be seen as the bigger digital honcho within Fox and within News Corp.?

And how exactly will Miller handle his duties? Directly underneath him are assets like MySpace and IGN that have seen their growth slow of late along with the online advertising market. MySpace’s heralded search advertising deal with Google, in particular, is said to be a disappointment.

Furthermore, Miller’s job as, essentially, a digital coordinator for the rest of News Corp. is a little blurry. Will folks at businesses as diverse as the Wall Street Journal and Sky Broadcasting and HarperCollins run their online initiatives through him? How does he make himself an asset to them, as opposed to a layer of bureaucracy that makes it harder to get anything done, as so often happens with executives in his position at big conglomerates?

More to come soon, no doubt, especially when News Corp. announces the deal and perhaps lets both of them speak publicly.

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