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Mike Hopkins

When his responsibilities changed this year, Mike Hopkins found himself under fire—not only from cable operators by trying to extract higher fees from them for programming and retransmission consent, but also from Fox’s affiliates.

Hopkins has been Fox Networks president of affiliate sales and marketing since 2008. When Tony Vinciquerra left as head of Fox Networks in February, Hopkins’ role was broadened to include network distribution.

Now that broadcasters are getting cash payments from cable, satellite and telco distributors, networks and affiliates are wrestling over what share of that booty each deserves. Fox’s negotiations with its affiliates went loudly public last month, when a letter Hopkins sent to stations warning that if the network’s proposals weren’t accepted, “Fox will pursue different distribution channels,” was leaked.

Last year, Hopkins was in the middle of retransmission disputes with Dish Network and Cablevision. The Cablevision dispute cost Fox millions of dollars and Cablevision tens of thousands of subscribers before the two sides came to a resolution. Later this year, Fox faces carriage talks with DirecTV that could be just as contentious. Fortunately for Fox, their man on the front lines is battle-tested.