In an expansion of News Corp.'s influence at Gemstar-TV Guide International Inc., Fox Cable Networks Group affiliate-sales executive Ray Hopkins was named the IPG provider's executive vice president of affiliate sales and marketing.
He joins former Fox Cable CEO Jeff Shell, who arrived at Gemstar as chief operating officer in April amid a power struggle between News Corp., which owns 43 percent of the company, and CEO Henry Yuen.
Hopkins, who sold such basic-cable networks such as FX and National Geographic Channel at Fox, will be charged with selling Gemstar's TV Guide Interactive digital program guide, the TV Guide Channel passive scrolling guide and the company's TVG Network horseracing network to distributors.
Gemstar has been known to play hardball with affiliates and competitors, and one challenge for Hopkins will be to build relationships with the company's cable and satellite customers.
"This company has had somewhat of a difficult time with our relationship with cable companies in the past, and Ray brings nearly 15 years of experience," Shell said last week.
Added Hopkins, "I think what you're going to see is a more cooperative team in place."
Hopkins began his cable career in 1989 at CNBC, as an affiliate-relations account executive. He later worked at Fox/Liberty Networks, where he was vice president of national accounts, before joining Fox Cable, where he had been senior vice president of affiliate sales and marketing.
Hopkins succeeds Mark Allen, who followed former Gemstar co-president Peter Boylan to Liberty Broadband Interactive Television in May.