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Ex-Banker Picked to Lead GSN

David Goldhill, former president of the Universal Television Group and a former investment banker, doesn't have a high profile in the cable industry. But he'll have a chance to make his mark when he takes the helm at GSN, succeeding Rich Cronin as head of the network.

Goldhill will become GSN's president and CEO effective this Wednesday, Aug. 1, responsible for all aspects of the network's business, including its expanding digital-platform efforts. Cronin announced his resignation earlier this month.

Goldhill last week said he essentially plans to leverage GSN's ownership — namely Sony Pictures Entertainment and Liberty Media, and their “substantial content production and distribution capabilities” — to take the 64 million-subscriber network to the next level. He sees GSN expanding in the growing arena of casual and skill games.

“As we look at the potential for GSN's next level of growth, we have to look at both the broader casual and skill-games area, which is growing very rapidly, and the potential for building multiplatform franchises and games,” Goldhill said.

“Both Sony and Liberty have real ambitions in that broader space [casual games], and GSN has the potential to be a truly unique asset in that space,” he said. “If you look at the creation of cross-platform game franchises and cross-platform ways to serve the audience, GSN is sort of unique in being a television property that already serves that audience and already features that genre.”

Goldhill most recently was a senior adviser to Associated Partners, a New York-based investment firm specializing in media, telecommunications and technology. From 2000 through its sale to the Interros Group in December of 2006, Goldhill served as chairman of the board of Independent Network Television Holdings, which built the TV3 television network in Russia. Goldhill had previously been CEO of INTH.

“He's a finance guy,” one cable executive said of Goldhill.

From 2002 to 2004, he was CEO of the Universal Television Group, a division of Universal Studios. He oversaw all operations at the company's domestic and international cable-television networks, including USA Network and Sci Fi Channel, cable and network television studios, first-run syndication business, and worldwide television distribution.

Goldhill's resume also includes a stint as executive vice president and CEO of Act III Communications, a privately owned holding company with interests in television stations, movie theaters, magazines and film production. He began his career as an investment banker with Morgan Stanley and Lehman Brothers.

“GSN is a well-established network but still has a series of opportunities that I think are more entrepreneurial,” Goldhill said. “In my own background, I've been very fortunate in that I've been able to almost alternate between entrepreneurial, even purely startup situations and more established company management. This one is something of a hybrid.”

As for GSN's quest to increase its carriage, Goldhill said: “Obviously, we believe that GSN should be a fully distributed network. Our job is prove that through the way we serve our audience.”

In June, Goldhill was elected chairman of the Board of Directors of Fun Technologies, a Toronto-based online skill and sports games business in which Liberty is the majority shareholder.