Incoming AOL chief sees parallels between online, TV

The incoming head of AOL left a 31-year career at NBC for the chance to transform the online business into a formidable rival to television and other traditional media, according to an Associated Press report.

Randy Falco will start as AOL's chairman and CEO after being lured last week from NBC Universal Television Group, where he was president and COO, the Associated Press report said.

'I'm fascinated by the Internet space,' Falco told The Associated Press. 'I see it as a very exciting environment to be in. It reminds me a lot about network television 30 years ago. It's a little bit like the Wild West. There aren't a lot of rules. That's what excites me about it.'

He said online advertising should grow 20% to 30% a year industry-wide, drawing dollars that might normally go to traditional media, including his former employer.

Falco, 52, replaces Jonathan Miller, who is leaving AOL following the surprise executive shuffle by AOL parent Time Warner, the report said.

Time Warner earlier named its SVP of operations, Ron Grant, as AOL's president and COO, a new position.

The Associated Press report further said Falco and Grant join AOL less than four months after Time Warner announced that following years of decline in AOL's core Internet access business, the company would give away email accounts, software and other features once reserved for paying customers in a more aggressive chase for advertising dollars.