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LOS ANGELES: The guy taking over the Fox Broadcasting division grew up “scooping ice cream, busing tables, digging ditches and sweeping up hair at his grandfather's barbershop,” according to a profile in the Los Angeles Times. Tony Vinciquerra was recently put in charge of the broadcast side of the business in a restructuring triggered by the impending exit of Peter Chernin, head of the Fox Group. Chernin’s 20-year tenure will conclude June 20. In a reorg announced March 12, News Corp. chief Rupert Murdoch moved the broadcast division under Vinciquerra, who already ran the Fox cable networks.

The L.A. Times piece paints a picture of an equanimous executive with humble beginnings that led him into air sales at a local TV station. He would eventually run the Hearst-Argyle TV stations from the company’s New York headquarters. He moved to Los Angeles in 2001 to run the Fox cable networks. The stable of Fox cablers exploded over the last decade, in good measure for the manifold ammunition provided by the parent company for carriage negotiations. After the Fox News Channel was launched nearly 13 years ago, it started paying some of the heftiest marketing fees in the business. Marketing fees were a one-time, per-subscriber payment that networks paid to cable operators or satellite distributors in carriage deals. Insiders in the late ’90s said Fox was paying $5 per sub, about five times the norm.

Fox New Channel is now in 85 million homes and is the regularly highest rated cable news network. Fox has since added FX, Fox Movie Channel, Fox Sports Nets, Speed, Fox Reality, Nat Geo and various regional sports nets--reaching more than 550 million homes collectively.

Whether Vinciquerra can translate his previous success to the broadcast side remains to be seen, particularly with current economic conditions diametrically opposed to the period of cable growth. Operating income at the 27 Fox owned-and-operated TV stations dropped by 44 percent in News Corp.’s fiscal 2Q, ending Dec. 31, 2008.

The combined TV division--TV stations, the Fox network, MyNetworkTV, Fox Sports Australia, Foxtel and Star--posted 2Q operating income of $18 million, off from last year's $227 million by 92 percent. News Corp., which also owns satellite broadcast and publishing businesses, posted an overall net loss for the quarter of $6.4 billion on combined revenues of nearly $7.9 billion. Shares of News Corp. traded at around $6.80 mid-day Wednesday after hitting a near 17-year-low of less than $5 earlier in the month. – Deborah D. McAdams