21st Century Fox president and Fox networks group chairman Peter Rice stated a preference for Disney as the company to ultimately acquire the majority of Fox, despite Comcast’s reported renewed interest in outbidding the Mouse. “I think it’s a great fit for Disney,” Rice said at Recode’s Code Media event in Southern California Monday.“We’ve had a speculation-palooza,” admitted Rice when asked about Comcast’s moves. He admitted that Fox assets would be a great complement to both companies, but argued that...
Rice first earned the respect of Rupert Murdoch with an incredible run at Fox Searchlight Pictures, where he shepherded hit after hit including “Juno,” “The Last King of Scotland,” and “Bend it Like Beckham” beginning in 2000. Murdoch rewarded that hot streak by moving him to the TV business for an even bigger job.
Promoted in September 2017 to president of 21st Century Fox, Rice has grown adept at juggling the very different needs of the company’s diverse array of networks, from FX to National Geographic. But he knows growth comes from change. Rice spent much of 2016 making structural changes to the company, reorganizing some of its brands, cutting costs in some areas and investing more heavily in others.
Knowing such change would mean a reduction of staff, Rice started with enticements for certain employees to resign voluntarily, a plan that could reduce staff overhead by $250 million in 2016 alone.
When Rice placed 20th Century Fox Television and the Fox network under the same management team of Dana Walden and Gary Newman in 2014, he cited benefits of having a vertically integrated network/studio. Variety reported that Rice told attendees of the 2014 TCA summer tour, “You can speak to us with a single voice now…I think it’s going to be good for us, and I think it’s going to be good for creatives.”
Rice had previously proved his abilities as a change maker when, as Chairman of Entertainment for Fox Networks Group, he led Fox to a three-season run as the No. 1 broadcast network.