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Sony Reorganizes Home Entertainment Division

Sony Pictures Home Ent. (SPHE) has reorganized to meet the challenges and opportunities of the digital era.

"This month, we started selling movies through digital downloads over the Internet, and next month, we begin to sell Blu-ray discs for the very first time," said Benjamin S. Feingold, president of Worldwide Home Ent., Digital Distribution and Acquisitions for SPHE. "With the digital market poised for growth, now is the time for us to organize ourselves to reap the full benefits of this new era, and to maintain and expand our leadership position in the home entertainment market."

"The changes in technology and consumer interests demand that we be innovative and visionary in our approach to home entertainment," added Michael Lynton, chairman/ceo of Sony Pictures Ent. (SPE)."The digital market has evolved to the point where it has earned its own place in our home entertainment business. Digital distribution and high-definition have evolved from a theoretical concept to a new retail business, and that's why we're making the strategic moves necessary to ensure that we aggressively market this business in the months and years ahead. And it all begins with people putting the right people in the right place at the right time."

"While nothing can replace the theatrical experience, we want people to have the opportunity to see our movies in their homes or wherever they desire," said Amy Pascal, chairman of the SPE Motion Pictures Group. "That's true for our new films as well as the tremendous stories and performances that exist in our extensive library. The Internet can make it easier for more people to see more of our films, and we're proud to be opening up this new avenue to entertainment."

As part of SPHE's reorganization, Feingold has tapped David Bishop to oversee SPHE's North American business and Matt Brown to oversee SPHE's European business. To ensure Sony Pictures' leadership in the digital arena, Feingold has named Sean Carey to head its digital distribution business at SPHE.

Bishop, who is being named president of North America for SPHE, had been president of Worldwide Brand Integration for SPE. He will report to Feingold and will oversee all aspects of the North American business including sales, marketing and operations. He will also have an integral role in the international operations of the MGM catalog. Prior to joining SPE, Bishop had been president/coo for MGM Home Ent. and International Theatrical.

In making the announcements, Feingold stated, "With the MGM transition nearing completion, I am delighted that David has decided to remain with our company. His strong reputation within the home entertainment industry, as well as his outstanding executive skills, will help to insure the ongoing success and growth of our core business. David's experience with MGM product will also be a great benefit to the division."

"I am thrilled to be at SPHE because this is one of the most exciting and dynamic times in the history of home entertainment," said Bishop. "I also look forward to working with Ben and the whole team as we focus on the growth of our core business and explore the new options given to us by the digital revolution."

Brown has been named evp, Europe. Brown will be based in London and will oversee all aspects of the European business, including sales, marketing and management. He will report to Adrian Alperovich, sevp, International. In this capacity, Brown will help create and execute strategic business plans for SPHE's growth throughout Europe, especially in light of the proliferation of new digital technologies in the region. He has most recently been svp of Worldwide Franchise Properties for SPHE. Prior to joining SPHE, he was head of International Home Video for DreamWorks.

Sean Carey, formerly svp of corporate development for SPE, has been promoted to evp, digital distribution and product acquisitions for SPHE. He will report to Feingold and will focus on two areas. First, developing and managing the North American distribution of movies and other SPE content via the Internet as well to mobile devices such as cell phones and PSPs. In that regard, he will also work closely with Sony Pictures Digital Ent., Sony Pictures Television and Sony Pictures Television International. Second, he will oversee all business aspects of SPHE's production and acquisition group, as well as negotiate key acquisition agreements.

"We are at the dawn of a new age in home entertainment," said Feingold. "Digital technology, combined with the increasing sophistication and mobility of devices on which content can be stored and played, opens up a whole new world for us and for consumers. By reorganizing our home entertainment division now, we are positioning ourselves to deliver entertainment to people wherever, whenever and however they want to enjoy it."

Feingold also announced the following promotions in conjunction with the reorganization of SPHE:

Robin Russell has been named sevp and general manager Worldwide for SPHE, reporting to Feingold. Russell will continue to oversee worldwide business affairs for the division including omnibus vendor and key, long- term supplier output agreements. She will also be responsible for worldwide administration and international operations for the company.

Marshall Forster has been promoted to sevp, North America, reporting to Bishop. Forster will continue to be responsible for all sales activities in the U.S. and Canada. This includes SPHE business development strategies, sales planning, retail marketing and customer service operations for the domestic sell-through and rental markets. Additionally, Forster will closely supervise all SPHE new format sales activities, including those for UMD and Blu-ray discs in North America.

Adrian Alperovich has been promoted to sevp, international, reporting to Feingold. Alperovich will continue to oversee all international sales and other business initiatives pursuant to the division outside of North America. He will also work closely with Feingold in the development of new packaged media opportunities for the division on a worldwide basis.

Lexine Wong has been promoted to sevp, worldwide marketing. Wong will continue to manage all worldwide SPHE marketing activities, which include the creation and implementation of marketing strategies for theatrical and non-theatrical titles released on all home video formats, programming, creative services, the development and production of added value materials for DVD and Blu-ray products, advertising and publicity. She will supervise all marketing for new formats and their rollout, including Blu-ray disc and digital downloading of Sony Pictures content.

Wong will report to Bishop on all domestic marketing activities and to Feingold on all international and new format marketing activities. Additionally, she will work closely with Alperovich on international marketing strategies.

Don Eklund has been promoted to evp, Advanced Technologies, reporting to Feingold. Eklund, previously svp, advanced technologies, will continue to oversee the development of new home entertainment formats such as the UMD and the Blu-ray Disc and act as principal liaison between SPHE, Sony Electronics and Sony Computer Ent. worldwide, as well as other technology companies.

James Mercs, previously svp/gm of the Sony Pictures Digital Authoring Center (DAC), has been named evp/gm of the area. Mercs will report to Feingold and continue to manage the DAC and its relationships with outside clients. In addition to developing the business profile of the center, he will oversee a team charged with insuring that the authoring technologies utilized by the DAC continue to be the most current and the finest in the industry, including new codecs for packaged and digital media.

Sony Pictures Home Ent. is a Sony Pictures Ent. company ( SPE is a subsidiary of Sony Corp. of America, (SCA), a subsidiary of Tokyo-based Sony Corp. SPE's global operations encompass motion picture production and distribution; television production and distribution; digital content creation and distribution; worldwide channel investments; home entertainment acquisition and distribution; operation of studio facilities; development of new entertainment products, services and technologies; and distribution of filmed entertainment in 72 countries.