Jeff Fager Stepping Down as CBS News Chief

Jeff Fager is stepping down as chairman of CBS News, he announced in an internal memo Thursday.

Division president David Rhodes will assume sole leadership beginning in January.

The longtime 60 Minutes producer had been in the role since 2011. Fager will return to the newsmagazine full time and received a contract extension through early 2019.

“When [CBS Corp. CEO] Leslie Moonves asked me to take the job of chairman, we agreed that when the time was right I would be able to return to 60 Minutes full-time,” said Fager in making the announcement. “I can’t imagine a better time for that than right now.”

Fager took over CBS News in 2011 from sports chief Sean McManus during a trying time for the division, as Katie Couric was preparing to depart as Evening News anchor and its morning program Early Show was struggling in the ratings.

Under Fager, CBS News saw Scott Pelley take over as Evening News anchor and revamped its morning show with a new name and cohosts. Fager also helped shepherd a sports-themed version of 60 Minutes, 60 Minutes Sports.

Fager returns full time to 60 Minutesa year after its Benghazi flap, though it hasn’t appeared to affect the ratings as the venerable series still averages north of 13 million viewers.

“We would not be in such a strong position today were it not for Jeff’s leadership and his willingness four years ago to supplement his role at 60 Minutes with the duties of chairman as David integrated himself into CBS News,” said Moonves.

Fager’s exit is just the latest shuffle among the executive ranks at the broadcast nets’ news division.

Earlier this year, James Goldston succeeded Ben Sherwood atop ABC News. In 2013 Deborah Turness took over NBC News, however, many observers argue she is already on thin ice, having fired Today show general manager Jamie Horowitz before he even started.