NEW YORK — News Corporation on Monday named Peter Rice as head of its Fox Networks Group as the media giant headed by Rupert Murdoch reorganized its leadership ahead of a likely split of the company.

Rice, who has been head of entertainment for the unit since 2010, will now oversee all programming and operations for the group, which includes Fox Broadcasting, Fox Sports Media Group, FX, Fox International Channels and the National Geographic Channels.

David Hill, who has served as chairman and chief executive of Fox Sports since 1999, has been named senior executive vice president at News Corporation to focus on programming, digital initiatives and other opportunities at the company.

Chase Carey, News Corporation president and chief operating officer, said Rice has proven himself "to be one of the most innovative and strategic leaders in the entertainment industry."

Carey said Hill "has proven himself to be one of the true visionaries in sports and entertainment across three continents during the last three decades and most recently has helped energize our National Geographic Channels."

The split of Murdoch's massive News Corp unveiled last month would create separate companies for the huge entertainment division and the struggling publishing business.

Murdoch says he would be chairman of both companies after the split.

Murdoch recently resigned as director of a number of companies behind British newspapers The Sun, The Times and The Sunday Times.

News International sought to play down the development, saying it was "no more than a corporate house-cleaning exercise prior to the company split."

But the announcement fueled speculation in the British press however that News Corp could be preparing to sell its British newspapers which have been at the center of Britain's phone hacking scandal.