NewsCorp Chairman Rupert Murdoch said he would be more directly involved in running his company with the departure of President Peter Chernin after 12 years as Murdoch’s top lieutenant.
In a long memo aimed at calming Wall Street jitters and palpable anxiety on the Fox lot in Los Angeles, Murdoch pointed to Chernin’s departure as an opportunity for change.
"Now is also an ideal opportunity to streamline and enhance many of the corporate and administrative functions of the business," he wrote in a memo to NewsCorp employees. "There will be a streamlined management structure between our Los Angeles based business units and the rest of the company."
He added: :We are in the midst of a phase of history in which nations will be redefined and their futures fundamentally altered. Many people will be under extreme pressure and many companies mortally wounded. Our competitors will be sorely tempted to take the easy beat, to reduce quality in the search for immediate dividends… We have always thrived on change and challenge."
After news leaked in the media of his imminent departure, NewsCorp President Peter Chernin issued a statement at 3:20 on Monday saying he was leaving the company:
"I wanted to let you know that I have decided to leave News Corporation when my contract expires on June 30th.
"This is not a decision that came easily, but after more than 12 years in my current job, 20 years at Newscorp, and 30 years of corporate life, I am ready for new entrepreneurial challenges."
In his memo, Chernin also wrote:
"I would not be making this difficult decision if I were not confident in the superb management team we have at Fox and in the visionary leadership of Rupert Murdoch. I have worked closely with Rupert every day, and I know he shares my belief that Fox executives are the best in the business.
"I want to thank Rupert for his remarkable support, encouragement and friendship over the years. No company in our industry can match News Corporation’s track record of creating opportunities for employees and there is no better example of that than the opportunities Rupert has given me over the years.
"I also want to thank all of you for the privilege of working side by side with such a talented and deeply principled group of colleagues. I am not only deeply proud of your achievements, but even prouder of the character and integrity of the company.
"Over the next several months, Rupert and I will work closely to make sure this is a smooth transition for everyone. Thank you for the dedication and enthusiasm that you have always shown and I know will continue to show as the company moves forward to even greater heights."
Peter Chernin, president and COO of NewsCorp, will transition out of his position with an official announcement expected later today, say sources close to the company.
Chernin, one of the most powerful executives in American media, is said to be ready to move on after a remarkably successful run overseeing Rupert Murdoch’s growing media empire, including Twentieth Century Fox, Fox Television and cable channels.
As one of a few people at the top of the media heap, Chernin nonetheless is aware that he will never get the top job at his company. The transition is expected to be discussed at a board meeting in New York on Tuesday.
NewsCorp top executive Rupert Murdoch was on a plane back to New York on Monday after Fox Searchlight swept the Oscars with its indie hit, “Slumdog Millionaire.”
Chernin has been a senior executive at NewsCorp since 1996.
More to come. …