Fox News Unveils New Leadership Team

Rupert Murdoch Getty H 2016
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Fox Television Stations CEO Jack Abernethy and Fox News senior executive vice president Bill Shine were named as co-presidents.

Rupert Murdoch is assembling the new Fox News leadership team after the ouster of chief Roger Ailes

Fox Television Stations CEO Jack Abernethy and Fox News senior executive vp Bill Shine were named as co-presidents. 

Abernethy will oversee all business components of Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network including finance, advertising sales and distribution units, while Shine will run all programming and news functions of each network, including production, technical operations and talent management. Shine will continue to oversee all strategic planning throughout the current election season, including election night. Suzanne Scott, Shine's second-in-command, has been upped to executive vp programming and development for Fox News Channel and will continue to report to Shine. Scott will supervise the Fox News daytime and primetime opinion shows and lead development of new programming.

"Jack was integral to the launch and success of Fox News nearly 20 years ago and we're delighted he's returning to take on this additional role," Murdoch said Friday in a statement. "As we continue to benefit from his strong leadership of Fox Television Stations, his strategic vision and deep knowledge of the cable news business will ensure continued growth of Fox News and Fox Business Network for generations to come."

He added: “Bill Shine has developed and produced a signature primetime that has dominated the cable news landscape for 14 of his 20 years with Fox News. His leadership and keen eye for programming has played a fundamental role in the success of both Fox News and Fox Business Network.” Jay Wallace, who was promoted to executive vp news editorial last April, will continue to manage the news division; he reports to Shine.

Additionally, CFO Mark Kranz will retire. In his statement, Murdoch thanked Kranz for his 19 years of service to the Fox News and noted that he was "instrumental in increasing profitability across all of our key properties. We are grateful for his many contributions to the company and we extend our best wishes to him as he embarks on a new chapter.”

The announcement caps weeks of speculation about who the 85-year-old Murdoch would tap to run the successful channel in the wake of a sexual harassment scandal that has rocked the cable news network. Shine, a 20-year veteran, was as much of a No. 2 as Ailes ever had at the network he ruled with an iron grip, making every programming decision and hand-picking all on-air personnel. But Shine, a no-nonsense newsman, is well liked in the newsroom. And Murdoch has stressed continuity and stability in the wake of a flurry of sexual harassment allegations against Ailes, reportedly including from the network's top female star, Megyn Kelly. (Ailes, through his attorney, has denied the allegations.) More than 20 women have detailed unwanted encounters with Ailes to lawyers tasked by 21st Century Fox to investigate the matter.

And the drumbeat of stories about Ailes also has name-checked multiple senior executives including Kranz, who was CFO when the network authorized a relatively large $3.15 million settlement agreement with a former booker, Laurie Luhn, who recently told New York magazine's Gabriel Sherman that Ailes harassed and "psychologically tortured" her for 20 years. 

Shine and Scott's names also surfaced in media reports concerning Ailes' behavior. Ousted anchor Andrea Tantaros alleged that she complained to Shine and Scott last year of unwanted advances at the hands of Ailes. Shine and Scott have denied that Tantaros mentioned Ailes. And a source with knowledge of the situation says Tantaros' complaints were about four other individuals, and were thoroughly investigated. 

And in making the announcement, Murdoch obliquely referred to the scandal that has rocked the network: "While this has been a time of great transition, there has never been a greater opportunity for Fox News and Fox Business to better serve and expand their audiences. Together with our worldwide team of dedicated professionals, we are the most influential and powerful brand in television."