Meidel's Job in Jeopardy at Twentieth

Reorg Leaves Twentieth President Without Clear Duties
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Greg Meidel, president of Twentieth Television, looks to be the odd man out of Twentieth Television's recent reorganization, announced yesterday (July 8).

Under the new structure, which has been the organization's de facto structure for months, all first-run development and production will be overseen by the Fox Television Stations. Stephen Brown, executive vice president of programming and development, is moving over to FTS from Twentieth Television.

For now, Brown will remain in Los Angeles, although much of his work will be done in New York, where the Fox station group is based. Brown reports directly to Jack Abernethy, CEO of the Fox Television Stations, who reports to Roger Ailes, chairman of the Fox Television Stations Group and president of the Fox News Channels. Frank Cicha, FTS' senior vice president of programming, will continue to oversee programming for all of the Fox Television Stations, which includes MyNetwork TV.

Twentieth, which now falls under the purview of 20th Century Fox Television's Co-Chairpersons Gary Newman and Dana Walden, will hold on to oversight of off-net distribution of 20th Century Fox-produced shows - such as Modern Family, Glee, How I Met Your Mother, New Girl, Family Guy and The Simpsons, as well as shows such as Fox 21's Homeland, which airs on Showtime, and Fox Television Studios' The Americans, which airs on FX. Twentieth also will distribute motion pictures produced by Twentieth Century Fox Film. Twentieth Television will not, however, remain in the first-run business, according to sources. All development and production of first-run programming is moving over to Fox Television Stations.

Should the Fox Television Stations produce a show that they want to distribute in national syndication -- such as this summer's upcoming tests of The Kris Jenner Show and The Real -- Twentieth would handle that distribution. That's much like the structure of other syndicators, such as Warner Bros., where Telepictures develops and produces first-run shows such as Ellen and Bethenny, and Warner Bros.' Television produces network-TV shows, while Warner Bros.' Domestic Television Distribution distributes both types of shows nationally to broadcast and cable clients.

What remains different at 21st Century Fox is that digital distribution is housed under a different silo: 20th Century Fox Television Distribution. That's the division that handles sales such as Netflix's recent acquisition of New Girl. Meanwhile, Twentieth Television is prepping to take that show out to broadcast and cable clients. Paul Franklin, executive vice president and general manager of broadcast sales, and Steve MacDonald, executive vice president and general manager of cable sales, handle those deals.

With all of those structures in place, the one person left without specific duties is Meidel, who up until now oversaw all first-run development and off-net distribution to broadcast and cable partners, as well as MyNet TV. All of those bases are covered by others via this restructuring, leaving Meidel's fate up in the air.

Meidel also is taking a hit for the failure of last season's Ricki Lake, which he championed. Fox Television Station executives were never enthusiastic about the show, but agreed to give it a shot at Meidel's urging. The daytime audience immediately rejected the return of Lake, and the show's ratings never improved throughout its one-year run.

Chase Carey, president and COO of 21st Century Fox, did make a point of mentioning Meidel in yesterday's release: "I am confident that Greg will continue to be a driving force in capturing revenue opportunities for the programming that we produce."

Jobs at Meidel's level are becoming increasingly rare, with CBS Television Distribution President John Nogawski and NBCUniversal Domestic Television Distribution President Barry Wallach both leaving their jobs in the past year and not being replaced.

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