Fox names first digital chief

Wertheimer to oversee new media for broadcaster

Fox Broadcasting Co. has created and filled a prominent new position to oversee the opportunities and obstacles the network faces in the digital realm.

USC Entertainment Technology Center CEO David Wertheimer was named president of digital at Fox on Thursday, reporting to Kevin Reilly, president of entertainment.

Wertheimer will be charged with a range of digital endeavors from managing online viewing to maximizing social-media efforts.

“This is an unprecedented time to be in digital entertainment, and I am really thrilled to be joining Fox,” said Wertheimer.

Prior to ETC, a think tank that served as a resource for entertainment companies looking to experiment and collaborate on new technologies, Wertheimer served as president of Paramount Digital Entertainment and founder of online network Wirebreak Entertainment.

None of the broadcast networks currently has a president-level executive solely focused on their business. Both NBCUniversal and Disney-ABC Television Group have top-ranking execs overseeing digital across both broadcast and cable channels in Vivi Zigler, president of NBCUniversal Digital Entertainment, and Albert Cheng, executive VP and chief product officer for Disney-ABC.

Wertheimer’s purview will extend to branded websites, apps, games and “digital network incubation.” Chase Carey recently raised the possibility that the network was looking into creating a digital channel solely for “The Simpsons.”

It’s unclear whether Wertheimer’s arrival will signal any significant strategic shift for Fox, which is neither a leader nor laggard among TV nets active in new media. The network maintains an active presence in support of its shows on social networks like Facebook and Twitter.

While Wertheimer’s oversight will be restricted to Fox, he will also liaison with News Corp. and Fox Networks to share best practices.

Among the digital-minded execs already working at Fox are Bill Bradford, senior VP of digital media, and Hardie Tankersley, VP of innovation. They will report to Wertheimer, who will be based in Los Angeles.

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