Jeff Shell’s right-hand man Ray Hopkins is leaving Gemstar-TV Guide to take the COO post at YES Net, a move that reunites Hopkins with his former Fox Cable colleagues Tracy Dolgin, hired in Sept as pres, and Matthew Cacciato, hired last week as svp, affiliate sales. (We suspect Lindsay Gardner already has put in his request for front row seats at Yankee Stadium next season.) "The job that I was brought in to do is basically completed," Hopkins said. That job included improving Gemstar’s relationships with the industry and signing deals. Among the top MSOs, only Cablevision hasn’t signed on for TV Guide Channel, which is in 75mln HHs. And the IPG has been licensed to most of the top operators, including DirecTV and DISH. Gemstar’s svp Tonia O’Connor will be promoted to replace Hopkins, who is relocating back to his native NJ. Hopkins is the 2nd top-ranking executive to leave the company in a week, following CEO Shell, whose departure was announced last Fri. Though Shell hasn’t commented on where he will wind up, he is widely expected to become Comcast’s new programming czar, reporting to Steve Burke. The resignation of Gemstar’s top two executives should increase speculation that Rupert Murdoch will take over Gemstar and sell off non-strategic assets. We know Comcast and Liberty are interested in TVG; and wonder if Comcast will buy Gemstar out of its IPG joint venture…

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