CBS News Chairman Jeff Fager, who has been running the network's news division along with "60 Minutes" for the past four years, said Thursday that he's stepping down from the chief executive role to concentrate on the newsmagazine.
His top deputy, CBS News President David Rhodes, will succeed him at the beginning of next year. CBS said it had extended Fager's contract to run "60 Minutes" until 2019.
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While Fager didn't succeed in lifting the "CBS Evening News" and "CBS This Morning" out of third place in the ratings, he set each program in a clear thematic direction with a harder, more traditional news broadcast than its rivals. Fager installed Scott Pelley as the evening news anchor and recently hired former NBC News President Steve Capus to run the broadcast.
He also supervised the building of a new studio and launch of a new morning show with Charlie Rose, Norah O'Donnell and Gayle King as hosts. This month, CBS began a streaming news service to offer a cable news-like experience on the web.
Fager said that when he agreed to take the chairman's job, he told CBS Corp. CEO Leslie Moonves that when the time was right, he wanted to return to "60 Minutes" fulltime.
"I can't imagine a better time for that than right now," he said. "So much about CBS News is going well, and I am extremely proud of where we have come in these four years."
The network's Sunday morning show under Charles Osgood is on a strong ratings run and Bob Schieffer's "Face the Nation," which just celebrated its 60th anniversary, is on top of the Sunday public affairs shows.
Some of the roughest moments in Fager's chairmanship involved "60 Minutes." CBS sent correspondent Lara Logan on leave following a discredited 2013 story on a raid at the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, that relied on supposed witness whose account could not be verified.