Fox Reality Chooses Lyle

Ex-Fremantle Media executive David Lyle will head the fledgling Fox Reality Channel, set to bow early in the second quarter of 2005.

He’ll report to Fox Networks Group president and CEO Tony Vinciquerra and will oversee all programming, production, marketing and business operations for a service that expects to debut in at least 17 million homes via pacts with Cox Communications Inc., EchoStar Communications Corp.’s Dish Network and News Corp.-controlled DirecTV Inc.

Lyle, who also worked at Pearson Television and Australia’s Nine Network, has developing and acquiring unscripted fare for more than 25 years. At Fremantle, he led a team that launched American Idol, the Fox broadcast network’s biggest hit.

That singing competition will not be part of Fox Reality’s roster, expected to comprise a mixture of classic reality shows, international series that haven’t aired in the United States and some original fare. Initially, original programming is more likely to take the shape of specials or short-strand series, rather than multi-episode shows.

Lyle said Fox Reality would also pursue time-shifted shows from Fox. “Some contemporary shows will wind up with us within a very short time,” he said.

A Fox spokesman said time-shifting is subject to agreements with affiliates.

Lyle expects to spruce up existing reality series by bring back contestants for a “sort of blow-by-blow description” about what they were thinking as the shows progressed. Shows could also be “made more exciting through unseen footage. There’s a lot of it that was cut for time or content-constraints from the networks. We’ll be slightly freer.”