The net side now

Hearst-Argyle's Vinciquerra looks toward his new post at Fox

Improving the network/affiliate relationship and (not unexpectedly) boosting ad sales are two top priorities for Tony Vinciquerra, the newly named president of the Fox Television Network. Beyond that, says Vinciquerra, who leaves his post as Hearst-Argyle Television COO at the end of the year, "an important part of the job will be looking down the road a bit and trying to determine what the path of network television is going to be and aligning the business to that path."

Clearly, he told BROADCASTING & CABLE last week, deregulation, technology and consolidation will drive change: "All we know today is, it's going to be different in a couple of years, on the network side and the station side."

His view from Hearst-Argyle, he says, is that relations with ABC and NBC have "calmed dramatically," from the fractious environment that existed just a couple of years ago (despite that Network Affiliated Stations Alliance petition still lingering at the FCC). In both cases, the networks and stations are beginning to talk about ventures beyond the core business that they can develop to increase revenues and profits. Vinciquerra hopes and expects that Fox and its affiliates will be able to come up ventures of its own.

Vinciquerra has been with Hearst-Argyle for four years, and leaving the company is "the hardest decision I've ever made." The catalyst for doing so is personal: His "significant other" owns her own company in Los Angeles and can't move East. Moving his job at Hearst-Argyle from the East Coast to the West Coast was discussed but ultimately ruled out.

Vinciquerra sort of replaces Brian Mulligan, who left earlier this year after a short stint as chairman of Fox Television. But Mulligan also oversaw all the cable assets, which Vinciquerra will not. He will oversee all aspects of the broadcast-TV network with the exception of programming.

Before joining Hearst, Vinciquerra was executive vice president at the CBS Stations and, before that, was at Group W Television, the station arm at Westinghouse, which merged with CBS in 1995.