Media: Fox looks within to fill leadership void
21st Century Fox Inc. named Jack Abernethy and Bill Shine as co-presidents of the Fox News Channel and Fox Business, naming long-time company veterans to fill the leadership void created when Roger Ailes stepped down amid a sex-harassment scandal.
The company also said in a statement Friday that Mark Kranz will retire as chief financial officer of the most-watched cable news network. Suzanne Scott was promoted to executive vice president, overseeing prime-time and daytime opinion shows, and will lead development of new programming.
The move puts two senior executives atop 21st Century Fox's most profitable TV network, dividing responsibilities that were previously all under Ailes, the chairman and co-founder of Fox News. Both will report to Rupert Murdoch, the executive chairman of 21st Century Fox, who became chairman of Fox News after Ailes's departure and continues to lead the network.
Proven play book
"The company had an opportunity to bring in some new blood but it appears that they want to stay with a proven play book," said Paul Sweeney, an analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence.
Abernethy, who will continue to lead Fox's TV stations, will oversee all business components of FNC and FBN including finance, advertising sales and distribution units. Shine will run all programming and news functions of each network, the company said.
The changes mark promotions for long-term Fox News executives. Shine, 53, joined Fox News in 1996 as the producer of "Hannity & Colmes" and rose through the ranks to oversee the network's entire programming slate. Abernethy, 60, also joined the network in 1996, when it was launched, and was once its CFO. The restructuring also adds a female executive to the senior leadership ranks at the network. Scott, who has been senior vice president of programming and development since 2009, joined Fox News at its inception as a programming assistant.
Ailes stepped down as head of Fox News in late July following an investigation of sexual harassment accusations in a suit by former anchor Gretchen Carlson, claims he denies. Since then other women have come forward with similar claims, including one who received a $3.15 million settlement, according to New York Magazine. 21st Century Fox said it only recently learned of that case.
Some of the women say they told Shine about Ailes's alleged harassment, a claim that Shine has denied.
Richard Greenfield, analyst at BTIG LLC, said the channel had preserved "the status quo" with Friday's appointments but that "Fox News was bigger than any one individual."
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