News Corp. readies new-media push

News Corp. plans "significant" changes in its online strategy, but it won't build a portal, according to the newly-announced head of its Digital Media effort, Jon Richmond.

Richmond, who was president of Fox Interactive, will hold the same title at News Corp. Digital Media, succeeding James Murdoch. Murdoch, son of News Corp. head Rupert Murdoch, was promoted to executive vice president of News Corp.

When asked if the company intends to build an online portal site along the lines of NBC's, Richmond responded "No, absolutely not." Richmond strongly refuted criticism that Fox and News Corp. have missed the race to the Internet by failing to establish a strong online portal presence like Disney/ABC's Go Network and NBC's Snap. "Most of those are vertical portals, which I don't think is a good strategy," Richmond said. "We want to create a community of a certain demographic using deep sites that are category-driven. We will do that with content and enhanced features. When that happens, all the other pieces, like e-commerce, fall into place."

Richmond said News Corp. will spend "significant" amounts of money in the coming months to build up its online presence. "The foundation has been built and the time is right to put resources into a very vivid expansion," Richmond, 42, told ZDNN. He said the company will open an office in Los Angeles to partner with its existing New York offices, and will hire "hundreds" of new employees. He declined to specify exactly how much News Corp. will spend.

Richmond said that the Digital Media side will work closely with other parts of the News Corp. media conglomerate. "The time is right to partner with others within News Corp. and leverage those resources," he said.

Specifically, expanding News Corp.'s online entertainment options will be a high priority. Richmond said Web sites for Fox television programs like "The X-Files" and "The Simpsons" will likely undergo changes. "There's a really vital market out there, in particular for entertainment content. We'll be doing lots of work in enhanced television," Richmond said.

Broadband initiatives are also high on Richmond's list of priorities. "We're going to aggressively go after the space," Richmond explained. "We will be leveraging our talent relationships to create new products."

Richmond said News Corp. is likely to leverage the Fox Network's strong showing among the advertiser-friendly 18-34 age bracket to help build an online community.

"News Corp. is positioned as well as anyone to succeed in this space," Richmond said when commenting on his expectations for his new role. "It's the most exciting space out there today. This is a dream opportunity for me."