Fox Cable Names Gardner’s Successor

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Fox Cable Networks tapped Michael Hopkins to head its affiliate-sales and marketing team.

Hopkins, as executive vice president of affiliate sales and marketing, is now leading those disciplines for the 30-channel Fox Cable Networks group. He succeeds Lindsay Gardner, who headed distribution efforts for Fox Cable over the past eight years.

Hopkins, who was elevated to the executive-VP level last spring, has been serving as Gardner’s chief deal-making lieutenant in recent years.

In his new post, Hopkins is not only responsible for linear carriage negotiations for the unit’s varied entertainment and regional sports network with cable, satellite and telco distributors, but HDTV and alternative distribution activities, including on-demand and emerging Internet-protocol-TV services.

All told, Hopkins -- who reports to Tony Vinciquerra, CEO of Fox Networks Group -- oversees a group comprising 100 executives and staffers.

Hopkins will continue to work closely with senior VPs Michael Biard, Sean Riley and Todd Schoen, who supervise day-to-day activities across national accounts, field operations and affiliate marketing for Fox Cable Networks, respectively. The three will report to Hopkins.

The first order of business for Fox Cable Networks’ affiliate team under Hopkins’ leadership will be “to stay close to our customers.” He said the group will be meeting with “everyone over the next several weeks.”

Among the key initiatives for Hopkins is getting the affiliate team to work closely with the Fox Interactive Media, Fox Digital Entertainment and Fox Mobile Entertainment units to “create opportunities for Fox and our customers in the various digital spaces.”

Even more important will be the efforts involved in launching the Big Ten Network, which is slated to kick off in August. The network -- which will present more than 35 men’s football games and over 100 men’s basketball contests, as well as a bevy of other conference women’s and men’s sports -- already signed a carriage pact with DirecTV.

Hopkins said Fox Cable is engaged in discussions with cable operators and other distributors. “Over the next 5-6 months, we will continue to focus on gaining national distribution for this channel, whose marquee programming will be available in high-definition,” he added.

Hopkins had been senior VP of affiliate sales since 2003 and, before that, he served as VP of national accounts at Fox Cable. He joined Fox Cable in 1997 as director of affiliate sales in its northwest region, representing the group’s first two properties, FX and Fox Movie Channel.

Gardner, who was named president of affiliate sales and marketing last May, is joining Mediatech Capital Partners, a banking firm that develops and funds new-media properties.

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