Fox's Rice Is Being Considered for Disney TV Job After Deal

(Bloomberg) -- 21st Century Fox Inc. President Peter Rice is being considered for a role that would put him atop much of the TV businesses at Walt Disney Co., assuming the company completes a deal to buy Fox’s entertainment assets, people familiar with the matter said.

In that position, Rice would supervise ABC and the Disney channels, potentially leading the way for other current Fox executives, such as Dana Walden and John Landgraf, to join the company, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the deliberations are still underway. Disney’s current co-chairman of its media networks division, Ben Sherwood, would transition to a new role.

Disney has agreed to pay $71 billion in cash and stock for the bulk of Fox’s entertainment assets, including its film and TV studio, cable networks such as National Geographic, and a chunk of the Sky Plc satellite-TV service in Europe. Comcast Corp., which has also bid for Sky, abandoned plans on Thursday to try to top Disney’s offer for Fox.

TV is a big part of the reasoning behind Disney’s acquisition. The company, once a powerhouse thanks to networks such as ESPN and the Disney channel, has struggled of late as subscribers migrate to online video services and cheaper cable TV packages. While Disney remains a leader in the film industry -- particularly with movies that appeal to kids and young adults -- it far less successful in more adult-oriented entertainment. That’s the kind of programming Disney executives feel they will need to compete effectively with Netflix Inc., Inc. and other video-streaming services.

Once an also-ran in the TV business, Fox has come on strong as an independent producer of television shows, such as “Modern Family,” the hit comedy that airs on ABC. FX, under Landgraf, has captured adult and middle America audiences with shows such as “Sons of Anarchy” and “American Horror Story.”

The proposed Disney management changes were previously reported by Variety.

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