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Ex-ABC News President David Westin Named Chief of AP's Digital Rights Org

Former head of network to lead independent digital rights organization for news providers launching this summer

David Westin, the former ABC News president who stepped down last fall, has a new gig.

Westin was named CEO of the News Licensing Group, an independent digital rights organization for news providers – established by the Associated Press — that will launch this summer with content and data from the AP and more than 1,000 digital publications.

The group will be owned by founding news organizations, which have yet to be announced. Westin's appointment was announced by the AP board on Thursday.

"The Internet and mobile platforms offer a wonderful opportunity to ensure that people have access to all the information they want, when they want it,” Westin said in a statement. “News providers will need to work with digital distributors to make sure that this new world works for everyone — for the news organizations, for the distributors and ultimately for the public. This is the mission of the News Licensing Group. It is an exciting moment for the news industry, and I'm honored to be part of it."

Srinandan Kasi, vice president and general counsel of the AP, is stepping down to join Westin as chief operating officer and executive vice president of the organization.

More than two dozen news organizations have pledged their support for the project, the AP said.

More from the release:

The News Licensing Group will build its business framework on work done at the AP over the last eight years and on the technical capabilities of the AP News Registry to measure digital use of text news content from its participating news organizations. The enterprise will expand to include photos and video, as well as information and content in multiple languages.

The naming of Westin completes a timeline begun last year, when the AP board instructed AP to create an independent digital rights organization to serve as a licensing service for the news industry. In February, the board formally approved the new venture, which will be headquartered in New York.

“The board felt strongly that the AP, a news cooperative, was uniquely positioned to lead the industry on digital communications by launching the News Licensing Group,” said Dean Singleton, chairman of the AP board and chairman and CEO of MediaNews Group Inc. “I’m thrilled that David Westin has embraced the great opportunity that this exciting, new initiative offers the news industry.”

Westin served as the president of ABC News from 1997 until 2010.