Fox aims to bolster Netherlands

2 exex appointed to aid ailing Dutch channel

AMSTERDAM — Rupert Murdoch’s Fox Entertainment Group and Fox Kids moved to shore up the troubled Dutch channel Fox Netherlands with the appointment of veteran sales exec Robert Bland as new managing director and Peter Vis as deputy managing director.

Bland was involved in the startup of Sky TV and Star TV and has a strong sales background. His appointment to take up the position vacated by former Fox Netherlands manager Hans Bloem, who resigned in March, indicates that News Corp. plans to take some badly needed action to bolster the channel, which has been plagued by miserable advertising and audience shares, poor programming, management reshuffles and lack of cohesive support within Fox.

Bland will help “maximize the support and value News Corp. and Fox bring to the channel,” Ynon Kreiz, president of Fox Kids Europe, told Daily Variety. Bland, whose appointment is effective immediately, moves up to his position from Star TV, where he has served as director of ad sales since 1994. He will report directly to Kreiz and Ken Bettsteller, president of News Corp. Satellite Distribution.

Vis, who will report to Bland, will also act as general manager for Fox Kids, which airs during the day. He comes to Fox from Holland Media House, the production arm of the three- channel Holland Media Group (HMG), where he served as director for two years. He will take up his post June 15.

A joint venture between Fox Kids and News Corp. subsid the Fox Entertainment Group, Fox Netherlands is a relaunch of Holland’s TV10 channel.

While Fox Kids is the market leader in children’s programming in Holland, the web’s primetime programming lacked the variety of studio deals and the lineup of local programming offered by competitors SBS6 and Net5 and HMG channels Veronica and RTL4. Fox Netherlands’ aud and ad share have seldom strayed above 1% since the channel relaunched in mid-December.