Chernin Staying Put at News Corp.

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News Corp. said Thursday that it has signed president and chief operating officer Peter Chernin to a new five-year employment contract, effectively removing the media executive from the short list of potential replacements for The Walt Disney Co. CEO Michael Eisner.

Chernin, who has been with News Corp. since 1989, has been president and COO of the media giant since 1996. He is responsible for News Corp.’s Fox Broadcasting Co., its 20th Century Fox film studio, cable networks such as FX and Fox News Channel and 35 television stations.

Chernin was considered to be a top candidate to replace Eisner earlier this year, when the Disney CEO was under pressure from shareholders to resign. However, after relinquishing his chairman’s title in March (it was given to board member George Mitchell), the outcry for Eisner’s removal has died down considerably.

In a prepared statement, News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch praised Chernin for his leadership.

“Peter has been a close and trusted colleague for more than a decade, and I am delighted that News Corp. will continue to have the benefit of his dynamic qualities for many years to come,” Murdoch said. “He has done a superb job growing and operating our core entertainment businesses in an increasingly challenging global marketplace. Peter is respected throughout our company and the industry for his intelligence, drive and leadership.”

Chernin appeared equally pleased.

“Across the board, this organization has the most talented, creative and aggressive management team in the business, and I consider myself privileged to collaborate with them day in and day out,” Chernin said in a prepared statement.

“I’m also enormously fortunate to have worked side-by-side with Rupert as News Corp. has become a global media company that today is without peer, and I look forward to building on our successes over the next several years,” he added.

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