Anne Sweeney has been named chairman and CEO of Fox Basic Cable, the Fox division responsible for launching and programming a new basic cable service expected to premiere on Tele-Communications Inc. and other cable systems early next year.

Sweeney, who has been senior VP of program enterprises at Nickelodeon/Nick at Nite, will head the operation, with Lawrence Jones still overseeing business operations and now reporting to Sweeney.

Jones has been Fox Basic Cable president-chief operating officer since the unit was formed 15 months ago.

Sweeney, whose start date has yet to be determined, will report directly to Fox Inc. chairman Rupert Murdoch, who said in a statement that “the new channel will be a major business for Fox, and we are all heavily engaged in establishing it.” He added that Sweeney has the credentials Fox is looking for in providing new and distinctive programming for the cable venture, which Fox has said will combine original programming with product from its library.

Fox recently announced a deal with TCI, the nation’s largest cable operator, to distribute the Fox cable service in the 10 million households TCI serves, with the cabler paying a monthly fee of 25 cents per subscriber for that service but not directly for retransmission of Fox’s broadcast signal (Daily Variety, May 13).

Fox is negotiating similar arrangements with other cable systems and with affiliates about the percentage of revenue they’d receive from such deals.

Sweeney, a 12-year veteran of the Showtime networks, joined Nickelodeon in 1981. She previously was VP of acquisitions for the MTV networks.

Fox Basic Cable was formed in March 1992 with Jones, who was previously head of “Fox Night at the Movies” production wing FNM Films, as president.