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Cablevision Hires EX-RBI U.S. CEO Tad Smith as Local Media Chief

Cablevision Systems has hired publishing executive Tad Smith as president of a newly created Local Media group including the newspaper Newsday and the News 12 Networks.

Smith last month said he was leaving his position as CEO of Reed Business Information U.S., the parent company of Multichannel News, Broadcasting & Cable and many other publications. RBI parent company Reed Elsevier has put most of RBI's U.S. assets on the sale block. His last official day at RBI is Aug. 31; he starts at Cablevision Sept. 1.

Cablevision said Smith's group is intended to more effectively organize local media and programming assets under one unit, and create online products that "deliver increasing value to Cablevision customers." Cablevision has about 3 million cable customers in the New York City area.

At RBI, one of Smith's focuses was to add electronic revenue to the publications, and over nine years it rose from about zero to 34% of revenue this year, he said in announcing his departure.

He will report to Cablevision COO Tom Rutledge. Smith's group will oversee News 12 Networks, the collection of seven local news channels and five weather and traffic channels, headed by Patrick Dolan; and Newsday Media Group, headed by Timothy Knight.

Cablevision bought Newsday, the dominant newspaper on Long Island, N.Y., a year ago for $650 million and has taken steps to integrate its circulation and ad-sales businesses with the cable company's.

News 12, meanwhile, has been bolstering its Web activity with user content and local news streams.

"For the past decade, Tad has successfully transformed traditional print businesses of significant scale and complexity into high-performing new media assets," Rutledge said in a release. "He is the ideal executive to build on Cablevision's commitment to local content as a key differentiator and value add for our customers by leading the creation of a new platform/business model that we believe will deliver enormous value to our subscribers, advertisers and communities."

"Newsday and News 12 Networks both have a longstanding history of delivering diverse, quality content to the local communities they serve," Smith said in the release. "There are tremendous opportunities to bring together their extraordinary expertise and to maximize their unique print, online and programming resources to deliver a best-in-class model that provides Cablevision customers with valuable, targeted content and connects those customers with advertisers of neighboring communities. I look forward to working with the many talented employees at each of these organizations to make that happen."

Cablevision competes in many markets with Verizon's FiOS TV and Internet services. Verizon in June launched local news channels on Long Island and in New Jersey.

Smith's new unit also will include new programming and interactive ventures under development, the company said. Cablevision is working on a new local channel covering high-school sports, called MSG Varsity, according to trademark filings and jobs-board listings, though the company has not commented on it. MSG Networks has a history of covering high-school sports in the New York region and, while Cablevision is separating MSG as a spun-off unit, it is believed the Varsity channel will remain with Cablevision. (This item was corrected on Aug. 13.)