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CBS Splits News/Sports Oversight, Adds Exec

By admin Published: February 8, 2011

In brief: Sean McManus, who had been president of CBS News and CBS Sports, will now be chairman of CBS Sports. Jeff Fager becomes chairman of CBS News, and David Rhodes, formerly of Bloomberg, becomes president of CBS News.

Full announcements after the jump.

McManus announcement:
Sean McManus, who has served as president of CBS News and Sports since 2005, has been promoted to the position of Chairman, CBS Sports. In this role, he will focus on the expanding portfolio of sports properties across all CBS Sports operations. The announcement was made today by Leslie Moonves, President and CEO of CBS Corporation.

In assuming this new position, McManus will step down from his role as President of CBS News. In a separate announcement, CBS promoted Jeff Fager, Executive Producer of 60 MINUTES, to the position of Chairman of CBS News; and David Rhodes, former head of U.S. Television for Bloomberg, to President of the News Division.

"Sports continues to grow into an ever-more important asset to CBS," said Moonves. "As we expand our operations at CBS Sports, CBS College Sports Network and in other parts of our company as well, we will require Sean's uncommon depth of knowledge of the business, his deal-making acumen and his unique and positive relationships throughout the world of sports to keep CBS on top of that game. I know all of us at CBS congratulate him on his new position as Chairman of CBS Sports."

Moonves also expressed his thanks and appreciation to McManus for his contributions at CBS News. "In Sean, we are fortunate to have an executive who is truly versatile and tireless in pursuit of quality and success," Moonves said. "While running our superb Sports Division, he has also done a terrific job steering CBS News through a period of transition and change, and the division is clearly on a better footing than it was the day he arrived. He departs this aspect of his post with CBS News boasting the #1 news program, the #1 Sunday morning broadcast and an award-winning and highly regarded evening news broadcast. I want to thank him for his leadership, and for maintaining the highest standards of journalism throughout his tenure."

"It has been a great honor to run CBS News," said McManus. "I'm especially pleased to leave it in the most capable hands imaginable, and proud of the fact that our division is well positioned for future success. At the same time, I am very excited about the prospect of focusing solely on the many opportunities before CBS Sports. The role of sports is an integral and growing part of our Company's success, and I look forward to working even more closely with my colleagues in CBS's cable and interactive divisions as we build on all we've accomplished. I also want to thank Leslie for giving me the opportunity to serve as President of CBS News, where I've been lucky enough to work alongside some of the most talented, dedicated and hard-working journalists in the business, and for this greater role at CBS Sports."

Sean McManus was named President, CBS Sports, in November 1996 and President, CBS News, in October 2005. He is only the second person in the industry to hold both division titles simultaneously; Roone Arledge held both at ABC from 1977-86.

As president of CBS News, McManus aggressively worked to build a strong corps of reporters and develop the next generation of CBS News correspondents. He designated and assigned key beats while also adding strong veteran correspondents to round out the group. During his tenure, CBS News won more major awards than any other network's news division, including one of electronic journalism's most prestigious honors for an innovative, division-wide news initiative that he conceived and oversaw, "CBS Reports: Children of the Recession." This months-long series of multi-platform reports on the effects of the dramatic economic downturn on America's youth won the coveted Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award in January 2010.

All told, the CBS News Division under McManus won three DuPont Awards, 12 Emmy Awards, four Peabody Awards and 29 RTDNA/Edward R. Murrow Awards.

During McManus' more than 14 years as President of the Division, CBS Sports has become the year-round leader in network sports television. In November 1999, he led CBS to an unprecedented landmark agreement with the NCAA that extended the Network's exclusive over-the-air broadcast rights, as well as rights to the Internet, marketing and corporate sponsorship, merchandising, licensing, cable television, radio, satellite, digital and home video to the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship through 2013. The 11-year pact was the most comprehensive sports agreement in history. In April 2010, together with Moonves, he negotiated a landmark deal, partnering with Turner Broadcasting to extend the rights to the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship through 2024. The $10.8 billion deal is the most extensive and far-reaching network-cable sports deal ever created.

As president of CBS Sports, McManus led the CBS Corporation's efforts in acquiring broadcast rights to the National Football League in January 1998 and, in November 2004 with Moonves, re-negotiated the contract to retain the rights for CBS through 2011. In May 2009, Moonves and McManus re-negotiated the NFL contract to retain the rights for CBS through the 2013-14 season, which includes CBS broadcasting Super Bowl XLVII from New Orleans in 2013. He will continue to serve as executive producer overseeing all aspects of CBS Sports' coverage of the NFL, including production, on-air talent, advertising and promotion. In addition, McManus will continue in his role as executive producer for the acclaimed show, INSIDE THE NFL, on SHOWTIME. McManus is a five-time Emmy Award-winner.

McManus reached a new multi-year agreement with the PGA TOUR to extend its broadcast rights through 2012 and to remain the TOUR's dominant broadcast partner. He also extended broadcast rights to the PGA Championship through 2019. In addition, McManus extended CBS's agreement with the United States Tennis Association to broadcast the U.S. Open through 2014, extended the agreement with the Big Ten to broadcast the conference's basketball games through 2012-13 and extended the Southeastern Conference (SEC) football and basketball agreements in another landmark deal—a 15-year extension through the 2023-24 season. McManus also led CBS's efforts in securing a partnership with SportsLine USA that created CBS SportsLine, now known as, one of the most successful sports Internet sites. In January 2008, McManus began overseeing CSTV's cable and digital businesses, initiating its rebranding as CBS College Sports Network.

Prior to his CBS Sports tenure, he was Senior Vice President of U.S. Television Sales and Programming for Trans World International, the television division of International Management Group, the world's largest sports marketing firm (1987-96). Before that, McManus was Vice President, Program Planning and Development at NBC Sports (1982-87), becoming the youngest vice president in the history of the network at the age of 27. He was responsible for all programming and was instrumental in the rights negotiations for the Olympics, the NFL, Wimbledon, the Breeders' Cup, the Orange Bowl, auto racing and NCAA college basketball. McManus joined NBC Sports in 1979 as an associate producer assigned to the NFL, Wimbledon, the PGA TOUR, "Sportsworld," auto racing and the Tour de France. McManus began his career in 1977 at ABC Sports as a production assistant and associate producer. In 2010, he was inducted into the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame. McManus is the son of the late legendary sports broadcaster Jim McKay. He graduated cum laude from Duke University in 1977 with a degree in English and history.

Fager/Rhodes announcement:

Jeff Fager, the Executive Producer of 60 MINUTES, has been promoted to the newly created position of Chairman of CBS News, and David Rhodes, most recently the head of U.S. Television operations for Bloomberg, has been named President of CBS News. The announcement was made today by Leslie Moonves, President and Chief Executive Officer, CBS Corporation.

In his new role as Chairman of CBS News, Fager will report to Moonves and guide the overall editorial direction, content and quality of all CBS News broadcasts, both on-air and online. As President of the division, Rhodes will report to Fager and run the operations of CBS News on a day-to-day basis, taking charge of all coverage and staffing. The appointments are effective February 22, 2011.

"In these two great news professionals, we get the best of both worlds: the quintessential insider with deep knowledge of the business and all the moving parts at CBS News, as well as a dynamic young executive with strong news management experience and a tough, fresh point of view," said Moonves. "They will inherit a proud and dedicated organization that has been well positioned for success in the future by their predecessor. Together, they make the ultimate winning team."

Fager and Rhodes succeed Sean McManus who, in a separate announcement released today, has been named to the newly created position of Chairman of CBS Sports.

After a long and eminent career in broadcast journalism, Fager became the Executive Producer of 60 MINUTES when the broadcast's iconic founder, Don Hewitt, retired in 2004. Since then, he has continued to build the reputation of the broadcast, upholding its quality and increasing its relevance in a new and challenging era of electronic journalism. He oversaw the program's conversion to high definition while growing its Internet presence and shaping its content to keep 60 MINUTES on top as the #1 news broadcast on television. His efforts resulted in an unprecedented amount of awards and an average audience that is more than double that of its closest newsmagazine competition. Fager will maintain his position as Executive Producer of 60 MINUTES.

"Jeff Fager represents all that is great about CBS News," said Moonves. "He is one of the most accomplished and trusted journalists in the world, and is now leading what is widely recognized as the greatest news broadcast in history to new levels of excellence and success. Now we're asking him to bring that vast wealth of experience, passion and judgment to the challenges and opportunities that face our storied News Division. I can think of no better person to maintain and build upon the great history of CBS News and bring it into a bright and competitive future."

"It's an exciting opportunity to have worked here as long as I have," Fager said, "and now to be in a position to guide CBS News into the future, along with someone as smart and talented as David Rhodes. I think it's also a credit to the fine people of 60 MINUTES, and our executive editor Bill Owens, that the news judgment and values that go into every 60 MINUTES broadcast will have an important influence on CBS News. I also look forward to the opportunity to work closely with Leslie Moonves and thank him for this opportunity."

David Rhodes has been the head of U.S. Television for Bloomberg since November 2008, managing the channel's programming, development, editorial, newsgathering, production and operations. In that post, he directed a staff of more than 200 in the United States, based at the company's New York headquarters. Prior to joining Bloomberg, Rhodes worked for 12 years at Fox News, starting at the channel's inception in 1996 as a Production Assistant. At the time of his departure, Rhodes was Vice President of News, managing all of the channel's day-to-day news operations and domestic bureaus, with a particular emphasis on breaking news and political coverage.

"We are extremely pleased that David Rhodes will be joining Jeff at the helm of CBS News," Moonves said. "David is a tremendously talented and dynamic new voice in our organization, and he has already made a name for himself as a superb journalist and news executive with great energy, credibility and dedication. We believe he will make a huge contribution to the culture of CBS News, to its daily operations and vision, and will also offer fresh insights and a new point of view on the way we do things. In a changing business, that can only add to our strength."

"The world needs great broadcast journalism right now—and we're going to work tirelessly to produce that at CBS News," said Rhodes. "I've enjoyed getting to know Jeff Fager, and hear his extraordinary passion for the institution. I can't wait to meet the rest of the team and get started."

Before his work at 60 MINUTES, and later as the founding producer of 60 MINUTES II, Fager was the executive producer of the CBS EVENING NEWS WITH DAN RATHER from 1996 to 1998, leading the broadcast's highly praised rededication to hard news, enterprise reporting and increased foreign coverage. By the time he left to start 60 MINUTES II, the CBS EVENING NEWS had gained more than one million viewers over the previous year. Fager was also the senior broadcast producer for the CBS EVENING NEWS between 1994 and 1996, covering many major international stories, including the war in Bosnia and the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Prior to that, he was a producer for 60 MINUTES from 1989 to 1994, primarily working with correspondents Morley Safer and Steve Kroft, and was part of the original team that developed and launched 48 HOURS, the primetime CBS News magazine.

Between 1983 and 1988, Fager served as a producer on the CBS EVENING NEWS and was based in London and New York covering numerous international stories, including the Palestinian-Israeli conflicts in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan; the bombing of Libya in 1986; and the collapse of the Soviet Union and the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe. He joined CBS News from KPIX-TV San Francisco, where he was a broadcast producer, and began his career as a production assistant in Boston in 1977 at the CBS station, WBZ-TV.

David Rhodes joined Bloomberg after 12 years at Fox. Over the course of his time there, he was a member of election night decision teams beginning in 2002; managed international projects with a particular emphasis on war assignments and newsgathering arrangements in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Gulf region; and directed the channel's coverage of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 as well as other major events. He was managing the network's assignment desk on the morning of September 11, 2001.

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