Jean-Rene Fourtou, the executive credited with saving Vivendi Universal from breaking under a mountain of debt, last week said he will step down as CEO of the French conglomerate next spring to chair a newly created supervisory board. His No. 2, Jean-Bernard Levy, will replace him as chief executive. That development happened as deposed Vivendi chairman Jean-Marie Messier was fined 1 million euros for making misleading financial statements in 2001 and 2002. The company was levied the same fine.
Saban Joins DirecTV Board
Less than a week after Eddy Hartenstein announced his retirement from DirecTV Group, the satellite giant last week said that Haim Saban was elected to the company’s board. Mr. Saban is chairman and CEO of Saban Capital Management.
Kranz Promoted to CFO of Fox News
Mark Kranz has been promoted from VP of finance to chief financial officer of Fox News. The move fills the opening left by the promotion of Jack Abernethy to CEO of Fox Television Stations. Mr. Kranz will report to Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes and will oversee all financial matters of the network, including budgeting, accounting, purchasing and business and strategic planning. “Mark has played a key role in helping the network achieve outstanding growth and profitability. He is a strong, talented executive who earned this promotion through steady performance, mature advice and attention to detail,” Mr. Ailes said.
Cablevision Reaches 250,000 Subs
Cablevision Systems last week said it has reached the 250,000 subscriber mark for its digital phone service, adding new customers at a rate of around 1,000 a day. The growth comes as cable operators begin to push their cable-based phone service as an alternative to that of the Regional Bell Operating Companies. Cablevision reached the milestone as it confirmed it will not spin off its satellite business by year-end as promised. Citing its continuing wait for Securities and Exchange Commission approval, Cablevision wouldn’t provide an estimate as to when the spinoff might take place.
Liberty Buys Back 3 Million Shares
Liberty Media International, the recently spun-off international unit of John Malone’s Liberty Media, last week repurchased 3 million class A common shares from Comcast for $128 million in cash. When LMI was spun off from Liberty Media last summer, Comcast received 10.9 million shares of LMI common stock.
Bouttier Named Telepictures VP
Brett Bouttier has been named VP of new business and sales strategy for Telepictures Productions, Executive VP and General Manager Hilary Estey McLoughlin announced. In the newly created position, Mr. Bouttier will focus on formulating a business plan and strategy to expand Telepictures product into cable and explore opportunities in video-on-demand, direct-to-video and brand integration. He will be based in Burbank and report to Ms. Estey McLoughlin and Jim Paratore, president of Telepictures Productions and executive VP, Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution. Mr. Bouttier joins Telepictures from NBC Universal Television, where he had spent his entire professional career, most recently serving as VP of cable sales and strategy. -JAY SHERMAN, JON LAFAYETTE and CHRISTOPHER LISOTTA