Exec in advanced talks to rejoin News Corp.

A familiar face could be headed back to News Corp. in a top management role under Rupert Murdoch.

Chase Carey, prexy and CEO of DirecTV Group, is in advanced talks with Murdoch about returning to News Corp. in a senior post to help manage the conglom’s far-flung businesses following the departure later this month of Murdoch’s longtime No. 2, Peter Chernin.

Word of Carey’s possible return comes as a surprise, however, given Murdoch’s insistence at the time Chernin announced his resignation as News Corp. prexy and chief operating officer in February that he would not appoint a direct successor. News Corp. even restructured the exec hierarchy of its L.A.-based entertainment business to adjust to the post-Chernin order.

It’s understood that if a deal can be worked out, Carey would return to News Corp. in the role of vice chairman, based in New York. The showbiz execs who now report to Murdoch — including Fox Filmed Entertainment toppers Tom Rothman and Jim Gianopulos and Fox Networks Group chief Tony Vinciquerra — would report in to Carey but with a dotted line to Murdoch.

Carey is a longtime Murdoch lieutenant who has moved through numerous exec posts at News Corp., mostly in its television operations, since 1990. He was tapped by Murdoch to run DirecTV in 2003 after News Corp. acquired a controlling interest in the satcaster, though Murdoch wound up giving up that stake three years later in an asset swap with John Malone’s Liberty Media.

But Carey may face a big hurdle in trying to leave DirecTV, because Malone is believed to be in the process of shopping Liberty’s stake in the company, which means it would be a bad time for the satcaster to lose its CEO.

Liberty last month created a tracking stock for DirecTV and a handful of other TV assets, a move that was largely was designed to make the satcaster more attractive to investors and prospective buyers (Daily Variety, May 5).

Carey’s contract with DirecTV is believed to run through the end of next year (Daily Variety, Aug. 10, 2007).

A News Corp. rep declined comment late Sunday.

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