Eric Ober Out as CBS News President
NEW YORK (AP) _ Eric Ober, who headed CBS News for five stormy years, is leaving his post, a CBS News spokeswoman said today.
In an internal memo issued this morning, Ober, who has been with the network for three decades, told colleagues that CBS President Peter Lund ``has decided to make a change in the presidency of CBS News.″ Ober’s memo said he was leaving Jan. 12.
He called his tenure ``extremely challenging,″ adding, ``I have no doubt that CBS News has great days ahead.″
It was not immediately known whether Ober will remain with the network in some other capacity.
Neither Ober nor other CBS executives were available for comment. However, the departure was confirmed by Sandy Genelius, a CBS News spokeswoman. No successor had been named, she said.
Andrew Heyward, producer of ``The CBS Evening News,″ is widely considered by CBS News insiders as front-runner to be Ober’s replacement.
Ober’s exit had been expected for months, as CBS News reeled from plunging morale and ratings, as well as from CBS’ transition to new ownership by Westinghouse Electric.
When Westinghouse announced its new CBS management team a month ago, some observers were surprised that Ober remained. Even so, he was given little more than a tepid endorsement.
Ober joined CBS in 1966 and spent the next three decades both in and out of the network’s news operations. After a stint as president of CBS’ owned and operated stations, he rose to the head of the news division in August 1990, becoming its sixth chief executive in a decade.
His tenure as president was marked by the poor ratings of the flagship ``Evening News,″ and by the pairing of Connie Chung with Dan Rather in a rancorous two-year co-anchorship that ended in May with Chung’s dismissal.
More recently, Ober was drawn into a controversial corporate decision over a ``60 Minutes″ report that focused on the tobacco industry. CBS lawyers were concerned that the expose, while accurate, posed legal risks to the company. Ober defended the decision not to air the story, outraging staffers at ``60 Minutes″ and elsewhere at CBS News.