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Fox Networks ad sales chief Toby Byrne abruptly leaves company

Toby Byrne was responsible for ad sales for the broadcast network, cable channels and Fox Sports. A Fox Sports camera crew films an NFL game in Detroit.
Toby Byrne was responsible for ad sales for the broadcast network, cable channels and Fox Sports. A Fox Sports camera crew films an NFL game in Detroit.
(Rick Osentoski / Associated Press)

Fox Networks Group announced the abrupt departure of its respected advertising sales president, Toby Byrne, who was responsible for commercial sales for the broadcast network and sports and entertainment cable channels.

“After nearly 21 years and a fantastic run … I’m leaving the Fox Networks Group to explore other opportunities,” Byrne said in a statement Monday.

A Fox spokesman declined to provide a reason for the unexpected exit of another high-level executive.

Byrne was nearing the end of his contract term after more than six years as the chief of Fox Broadcasting’s ad sales. During the last two years, the genial executive also was in charge of ad sales for several cable channels, including FX, National Geographic and the Fox Sports channels.

“Toby has made a tremendous impact on Fox Networks Group,” Randy Freer, president of the networks group, said in an internal memo distributed to the staff. “He was a driving force behind the recent unification of our ad revenue group, combining all Fox Networks Group brands under one team.”

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Fox said it was launching a search for an executive to fill the important position, which brings in a large chunk of revenue for the company. There was no indication that Fox had been unhappy with Byrne’s performance.

tremendous contribution to Fox and wish him the best.”

Until a successor is named, four executives will handle Byrne’s duties. Freer said that he will oversee advertising revenue, while other responsibilities are shared by Bruce Lefkowitz, executive vice president of advertising sales; Danielle Maged, executive vice president of global partnerships; and Joe Marchese, president of advance advertising products.

Byrne’s departure comes three months after longtime FNG Chief Financial Officer Del Mayberry retired amid a dramatic workforce reduction at Fox’s TV and movie operations in West Los Angeles. Mayberry was replaced by Ravi Ahuja.

Fox has experienced plenty of turmoil in recent months. Fox News Channel has been roiled by controversy amid the sexual harassment scandal that forced the powerful Fox News chairman, Roger Ailes, from his job in July. This month, 21st Century Fox agreed to pay Gretchen Carlson, the former Fox News anchor, a reported $20-million settlement and apologized publicly for the mistreatment she received.

Now Rupert Murdoch is overseeing Fox News, along with two longtime Ailes’ associates, Bill Shine and Jack Abernethy, who is head of the Fox TV stations group.

Byrne, who was based at Fox’s corporate headquarters in New York, did not oversee ad sales for Fox News Channel.

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meg.james@latimes.com

@MegJamesLAT


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