Former ABC News Chief David Westin to Head Up News Licensing Group

NEW YORK: Former ABC News President David Westin was today named to lead the News Licensing Group, an independent digital rights organization set to launch this summer. It will initially go up with content and data from The Associated Press and “more than 1,000 digital publications,” AP said.

Westin will be president and CEO of the Group, established by the AP board of directors to protect and license original news content. The group will launch this summer. More than two dozen organizations have pledged support, AP said.

“The Internet and mobile platforms offer a wonderful opportunity to ensure that people have access to all the information they want, when they want it,” Westin said. “News providers will need to work with digital distributors to make sure that this new world works for everyone--for the news organizations, for the distributors and ultimately for the public. This is the mission of the News Licensing Group. It is an exciting moment for the news industry, and I'm honored to be part of it.”

Srinandan Kasi is stepping down as vice president and general counsel of the AP to serve as chief operating officer and executive vice president of the News Licensing Group. It will be owned by the founding organizations. Those, and initial participants, will be announced in the coming weeks. They will be domestic and international in scope, AP says.

The News Licensing Group will build its business framework on work done at the AP over the last eight years and on the technical capabilities of the AP News Registry to measure digital use of text news content from its participating news organizations. The enterprise will expand to include photos and video, as well as information and content in multiple languages.

The naming of Westin completes a timeline begun last year, when the AP board instructed AP to create an independent digital rights organization to serve as a licensing service for the news industry. In February, the board formally approved the new venture, which will be headquartered in New York.

Westin served as president of ABC News from 1997 until 2010. He oversaw all editorial and business aspects of the news division, including all television programs, ABC News Radio and He first joined Capital Cities/ABC as vice presdient and general counsel in 1991 and was responsible for all legal affairs including labor and government relations. He was later promoted to president of the ABC Television Network where he was responsible for all divisions and program units including ABC News, Sports and Entertainment, as well as sales, marketing, broadcast operations, engineering and network communications. Before joining ABC, Westin was a partner in Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering in Washington, D.C.

He has taught as an adjunct law professor at Harvard and Georgetown, served on the AP board of directors from 2001 to 2010. The firm of Bentley & Farrell conducted the executive search on behalf of the News Licensing Group.

Kasi was named vice president, general counsel and secretary of AP in 2006. He has been responsible for AP’s legal affairs globally, overseeing several strategic initiatives with a specialization in ventures involving advanced technology and digital business models. Kasi joined AP in 2004 as vice president of Global Business and deputy general counsel. He was previously a scientist with IBM. Kasi holds a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Houston and a J.D. from Columbia University.