Fifth Estater

Around the World Without an Ego

Haslingden collects admirers while building Fox Networks Group’s businesses 1/09/2012 12:01:00 AM Eastern

David Haslingden

Title:

President and chief operating officer, Fox Networks Group

Education:

Sydney University, B.A. in law, 1982; Masters of Law, Cambridge University, England, 1984

Employment Highlights:

Senior associate, Allen, Allen & Helmsley, 1984-1992

Assistant to the chairman, News Limited, 1992-93

Executive VP, Star TV, 1993-99

CEO, National Geographic Channels International, 1999-2002

CEO, Fox International Channels and National Geographic Channels International, 2002-07

CEO, Fox International Channels and CEO, National Geographic Channels Worldwide, 2008-11

Current position since January 2011

Personal:

b. Aug. 21, 1961; married to Alexa; children Rebel, 16, and Chase, 13

David Haslingden grew up on a sheep and cattle ranch in New
South Wales, Australia, and says he figures that’s where he
will ultimately wind up. In between, he is having a peripatetic
career that’s taken him through the wilds of the international
television business to Hollywood, where he is president of
Fox Networks Group, a key job at one of the world’s most
important entertainment companies.

People who know Haslingden say he has
stayed down to earth and that he’s the kind of
guy they would enjoy having a beer with. “He’s
got almost no ego,” says John Fahey, CEO of
the National Geographic Society. “People who
work for him really enjoy him. Sometimes that
happens but you don’t get the intellectual depth
and the strategic depth. He brings that as well.”

Originally, Haslingden thought he would be
a farmer, but decided there had to be an easier
way to earn a living. He became a lawyer, working
at a Sydney firm whose clients included
News Corp., which offered him a job. “My title
was actually ‘anything but a lawyer,’” he says.
After a series of “odd jobs,” he went to Hong
Kong as executive director of Star TV, where he
headed up marketing and distribution, shuttling
from India to Japan to Korea to China.

Later, Haslingden worked on a deal giving
News Corp. a 50% interest in the National
Geographic Channel. He learned the National
Geographic Society’s business and eventually
moved to Washington as head of National Geographic
International.

“What he did here for the National Geographic
Channel is he really made them believe
that they could achieve huge goals,” says Fahey.

After News Corp. merged a number of companies
to create Sky TV, Haslingden moved to Rome
to focus on creating channels for the company.

Haslingden grew the Fox International Channels
business from an operating loss to its current
$500 million in annual operating income.
The unit is expected to generate $1 billion in
operating income before 2015. “I’d have to say I
certainly didn’t do it alone,” he says. “The thing
that gives me most pleasure thinking about Fox
International Channels is we were able to coordinate
ourselves as an amazingly disparate
team, spread out across the world, 20-plus nationalities,
very significant age ranges and experience
ranges amongst us. And yet, we were
able to coordinate ourselves to act as a cohesive
and very fast-moving team.”

That performance was a big reason Haslingden
was summoned to the U.S. last January
to run all of News Corp.’s channel businesses,
which COO Chase Carey calls the heart of the
company. “He has proven an ability to take responsibility
to make decisions and take intelligent
risks and not shy away from challenges
and to deliver results,” Carey says, adding that
Haslingden’s sociability is an asset at News
Corp., which puts the onus on executives to
build businesses. “It’s important to have individuals
who can build teams, who can relate
to people.”

Former Star TV president Bruce Churchill,
now president of DirecTV Latin America, says
Haslingden brings a unique perspective to his
job. “He grew up in the TV business in the international
markets, where you basically make
it up as you go along, which I think requires a
lot more creativity and entrepreneurship than
it does in the U.S.”

Building relationships is very important in
international markets, as is having a sense of
humor.

“We did business in India. That in and of
itself is a test of anyone’s sense of humor,”
Churchill says of Haslingden.

Haslingden packed his charm when he traveled
to the U.S. Lou LaTorre, president of Fox
Cable Ad Sales, says Haslingden is the best of
10 bosses he’s had at News Corp. “He’s always
supportive and there’s not a negative bone in
the guy’s body,” LaTorre says. “He genuinely
cares about the people who work with him.
He’s a phenomenal leader and a great boss.”

While Carey says Haslingden hit the ground
running in his current post, the latter credits
others for the continued momentum at channels
such as FX. “Thank goodness the team
here is so good at their jobs,” Haslingden says.
“Not having a lot of experience when I first got
involved wasn’t a fatal liability.”

Haslingden is excited by the world he now
helps run. “You drive onto the lot to go to work
and I pinch myself,” he says. “You’re working
in close vicinity of people who are creating or
performing in content that affects the lives of
millions of people around the world.”

While Haslingden and his wife, a New Yorker
he met while a lawyer, have moved to L.A.,
his two teenage daughters decided to ! nish
school in Australia. Both Haslingden and his
wife went to boarding school and think it is a
positive experience. While he amuses himself
by writing whodunits, he says the family does
normal things—museums, ballgames, beaches,
hikes—except in unusual places.

“As a result of work, we and my children
have really good friends in just about every
country in the world,” Haslingden says. That
has made all the travel a bonus. “The children
are really quite extraordinary in terms of their
understanding of different parts of the world
and their openness to different cultures, behaviors
and attitudes,” he says. “They’re very
broad-minded, easygoing and experienced.”

E-mail comments to jlafayette@nbmedia.com and follow him
on Twitter: @jlafayette

David Haslingden

Title:

President and chief operating officer, Fox Networks Group

Education:

Sydney University, B.A. in law, 1982; Masters of Law, Cambridge University, England, 1984

Employment Highlights:

Senior associate, Allen, Allen & Helmsley, 1984-1992

Assistant to the chairman, News Limited, 1992-93

Executive VP, Star TV, 1993-99

CEO, National Geographic Channels International, 1999-2002

CEO, Fox International Channels and National Geographic Channels International, 2002-07

CEO, Fox International Channels and CEO, National Geographic Channels Worldwide, 2008-11

Current position since January 2011

Personal:

b. Aug. 21, 1961; married to Alexa; children Rebel, 16, and Chase, 13

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