Former Fox Family Channel and Viacom Inc. executive Rich Cronin has been
tabbed to head Game Show Network as president and CEO.
Cronin's appointment was announced Wednesday by Liberty Digital Inc.
president and CEO Lee Masters and Sony Pictures Entertainment's Columbia TriStar
Television president Len Grossi.
Cronin, who began talking with GSN months ago ( Multichannel News, Jan. 29
), succeeds Michael Fleming, who headed the channel, which is now in some 30
million homes, since its debut in December 1994.
Most recently president and CEO of Fox Family Channel and Fox Kids Network,
and founder of Viacom's TV Land, Cronin's appointment is the first major
management decision at GSN since Liberty Digital bought a 50 percent stake in
the network, which was formerly owned wholly by SPE, in February for some $275
million. The companies jointly operate GSN.
Under the dual-ownership structure, Cronin will report to an SPE/ Liberty
management committee. His responsibilities include overseeing day-to-day
operations for GSN, which include original programming, interactive games, the
industry's largest game-show inventory, affiliate sales, advertising sales,
marketing, public relations, research, finance and business affairs.
A veteran of Viacom's TV Land and Nick at Nite, Cronin abruptly exited Fox
Family last May. He was put in charge of relaunching The Family Channel under
the Fox Family banner in August 1998. Revamping its lineup with virtually
all-new programming, Fox Family lost audience overall but began to build a base
with younger adults and kids, especially female 'tweens.'
Prior to finalizing its GSN acquisition, Liberty Digital was evaluating the
network and examining how to enhance its operations. One goal: to ramp up GSN's
distribution to 50 million to 60 million homes. At the time, Masters said the
company was assessing 'every aspect of the business,' and 'management would be
part of that.'
'Rich is one of the great people-centric leaders in the
entertainment industry who is excellent at developing TV brands and
programming,' Masters said in a prepared statement. 'It'll be fun to watch him
and his team make it happen.'
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