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DirecTV's Top Marketer Departs

The executive suite at DirecTV Inc. was further rearranged late last month when executive vice president of sales of marketing and DirecTV merchandising president Bill Casamo stepped down.

With that resignation, the direct-broadcast satellite provider restructured its top management team, as DirecTV Global Digital Media Inc. president Larry Chapman was named acting executive vice president of marketing and advertising.

In this role, Chapman will report to DirecTV president Roxanne Austin, who now oversees the company's sales organization directly. Chapman will retain his digital media position, in which he reports to DirecTV chairman Eddy Hartenstein.

Former chief financial officer Bob Meyers was appointed acting vice president of customer satisfaction. In his new role as overseer of the DBS provider's customer-satisfaction unit, Meyers will be responsible for customer-service operations and the Home Services Network installation group, as well as the company's attempts to move to a hardware-lease model.

"The competitive marketplace has changed dramatically since we launched DirecTV seven years ago, and we face new challenges," Hartenstein said in a statement. "I'm confident that our actions will help get us back on track and ensure our continued leadership and competitiveness in the marketplace."

Several weeks ago, former DirecTV president Odie Donald left the company. In an earnings call last month, Austin said there would be other imminent management changes.

Casamo joined DirecTV in 1997, stepping into shoes filled earlier in the DirecTV rollout by Steve St. Marie, who oversaw advertising and marketing, and Jim Ramo, who was responsible for sales.

During Casamo's tenure, DirecTV's subscriber base grew from less than 3 million homes to more than 10 million households. He also worked closely with Blockbuster Video to drive DirecTV customer acquisitions through the rental chain's stores.

DirecTV is conducting a search for Casamo's replacements. The company will likely hire an executive recruiter to seek out two seasoned executives, one to oversee sales and a second for advertising and marketing, DirecTV spokesman Bob Marsocci said.

B.G. Marketing Inc. president Barbara Roehrig suggested that DirecTV would do well to look for a marketing executive with a background in cable television.

Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing senior vice president of marketing Seth Morrison acknowledged that MSO marketing executives might be interested in either DirecTV post. But it might be difficult to attract someone — especially at a senior level — because DirecTV could soon have a new owner, Morrison cautioned.

News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch is negotiating to acquire DirecTV parent Hughes Electronics Corp., which would be merged into News' SkyGlobal Networks division.

"There may be people who would take the job for enough of a golden parachute," Morrison said. Anyone looking at the position would likely need to prove that they were good enough to keep the post within the year before a possible merger were to close, he added.