New leadership at CBS News
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CBS News is restructuring its executive ranks.
Sean McManus, who has been doing double duty as president of CBS Sports and CBS News for six years, is stepping back from news to focus exclusively on sports as chairman of the unit.
Taking over CBS News is Jeff Fager, the veteran executive producer of ’60 Minutes’ who becomes chairman of the unit. David Rhodes, who joins CBS News from Bloomberg News where he had overseen the business media giant’s television operations, was named president.
The move is indicative of the growing role sports plays at CBS and the need of the network to have a more hands-on focus in its news division.
Besides the National Football League, CBS also shares rights to the NCAA college basketball tournament with Turner Broadcasting. The network also has rights to PGA golf. McManus has oversight over the cable channel College Sports Network and now Showtime, CBS’ pay TV channel, is dipping its toe further into sports.
McManus, who has been president of CBS Sports since 1996, added news to his portfolio in 2005 at the behest of CBS Chief Executive Leslie Moonves. He stepped in to replace Andrew Heyward who left in the wake of Dan Rather’s controversial ’60 Minutes’ report that alleged then President George W. Bush had gotten preferential treatment from the U.S. military to duck serving in Vietnam.
Fager and Rhodes will have their hands full at CBS News. While ’60 Minutes’ remains incredibly strong, the network’s morning and evening news shows continue to struggle in the ratings. One of the first priorities for the new leadership will be to figure out how to proceed with news anchor Katie Couric, whose contract is up later this spring.
Fager has overseen ’60 Minutes’ since noted producer Don Hewitt retired in 2004. Before that, he produced the network’s spin-off of ’60 Minutes’ and served as an executive producer of the network’s newscast when Rather was anchor.
Rhodes spent the last two years at Bloomberg and before that was with Fox News for a dozen years, rising to vice president of news.
-- Joe Flint