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David Rhodes to run CBS News; Jeff Fager returns to '60 Minutes'

It's a new era at CBS News: David Rhodes to be top executive beginning Jan. 1

It's a new era at CBS News.

Veteran CBS News Chairman Jeff Fager announced Thursday that he is stepping down from his role leading the news division, handing over the reins to a new generation in David Rhodes.

Fager will return to being a full-time executive producer of the network's flagship newsmagazine, "60 Minutes," extending his contract through 2019.

Rhodes will remain president of CBS News. However, his duties will expand as he takes over management of the entire division, succeeding Fager, at the beginning of next year.

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FOR THE RECORD

Nov. 21, 11:07 a.m.: An earlier version of this post stated that David Rhodes would succeed Jeff Fager as chairman of CBS News. Rhodes will become the top news executive but he retains his title of president of CBS News.

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Rhodes, 40, had stints at Bloomberg and Fox News before joining CBS in February 2011. At that time, he stood as the youngest network news president in television history.

During the last 3 1/2 years, Rhodes has helped Fager shape the strategy to brand CBS News as a destination for serious TV journalism. Its programs, including "CBS Evening News," and its morning news show, retitled "This Morning," have tried to steer away from the lighter fare that fills rival shows.

Fager presided over CBS News during a turbulent time.

The longtime “60 Minutes” executive producer inherited a division that was struggling to stand out. The evening news program, which was then helmed by Katie Couric, who was prepping her exit, looked shaky and the morning show had ratings woes.

The new management team reinvigorated its shows, installing correspondent Scott Pelley as the network's chief anchor of "The CBS Evening News," and Charlie Rose, Gayle King and Norah O'Donnell as the new morning news team.

CBS Corp. CEO Les Moonves extolled the mark that Fager, as well as Rhodes, have made on the news organization during their tenure.

Moonves, in his statement, indicated that Rhodes was being groomed for the chairman position from the get-go and expects him to bring it to “new heights.”

“We have come a long way under the leadership of that team,” Moonves said. “Now Jeff has convinced me that the time has arrived for the next step in the plan we implemented almost four years ago – for Jeff to return to an exclusive focus on a broadcast that defines the greatness of CBS, and for David to assume the sole leadership of CBS News.”

Rhodes has been hard at work. He was at the forefront of CBS' launch of its digital streaming news network CBSN. Fager, in his statement, expects more to come when Rhodes takes command of the division.

“I hired him almost four years ago with this moment in mind, and he has exceeded all expectations," Fager said.

Rhodes said in his statement: “Jeff is a great mentor and a close friend who has been my guide to CBS News since I arrived here in 2011. We’ve accomplished so much with him as chairman, and I am reassured that he will continue to be a resource to me and to the whole news organization. It’s terrific having Jeff continue as executive producer of our most important broadcast.”

Twitter: @villarrealy

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