Robert Tercek is leaving his post as senior veep of digital media at Columbia TriStar Television to join PacketVideo Corp. as prexy of programming to focus on developing handheld devices as a new distribution format for studio and TV network programming.

In his new post, Tercek will oversee San Diego-based PacketVideo’s efforts to develop, acquire and license interactive programming — radio, music, animation, video — for distribution across digital wireless networks to be accessed via mobiles devices such as cell phones, portable MP3 players and handheld computers.

Tercek will report to Jim Carol, CEO and co-founder of privately held PacketVideo. He begins in his new post in January. His first task will be to set up the company’s content group in Los Angeles.

PacketVideo has already been in talks with Netcaster AtomFilms and Columbia TriStar to adapt content for wireless distribution to mobile devices.

“Rob Tercek is widely regarded as one of the most dynamic and innovative leaders in the world of new media,” Carol said. “His presence will greatly accelerate PacketVideo’s efforts to support the creation and distribution of programming suitable for wireless multimedia services that will be deployed globally beginning next year. “Tercek may provide the push needed to get Hollywood into wireless. As senior veep of digital media at Columbia TriStar TV, the exec established the studio’s interactive TV production unit, bowing interactive versions of “Jeopardy!” and “Wheel of Fortune” for users of WebTV and Sony’s Game Show Network viewers. He also oversaw distribution deals for interactive television programming in the U.S. and Europe.

“I couldn’t have made this step into PacketVideo without having been part of a forward thinking company like Sony,” Tercek told Daily Variety. “Wireless multimedia is clearly the next evolutionary step for video and other media-rich Internet content. I look forward to helping many entertainment companies develop wireless distribution strategies to all digital networks,” Tercek told Daily Variety.

He joined Sony Pictures as veep of online programming in 1997, supervising the development of Internet games for distribution on Sony’s online game site, the Station@Sony.com, as well as online brand extensions of the studio’s film and TV properties.

Before that, Tercek was a founder of software developer Cortina Entertainment. In 1993, he was a founding partner and creative director for 7th Level, a Los Angeles software development firm. He was also director of on-air promotion at MTV, building the channel’s brand identity.

“Wireless puts a lot of control in the hands of the consumer,” Tercek said. “Wireless gives them the freedom to access content anywhere. Studios have been focused on satellite and cable television and now over the Internet. There hasn’t been a lot of consideration for wireless systems. This will cause companies to reconsider their video distribution plans. Studios now don’t have to sell just to TV networks anymore; they can create their own distribution methods to reach consumers directly. It opens a whole new window. Our goal is to help facilitate that.”