With CNBC's ratings at a low point, executive vice president of business news Bruno Cohen "has elected to take a sabbatical," the network said last week.
News of Cohen's departure appeared Wednesday on the Web site newsblues.com, which reported that Cohen was fired from the post after six years at CNBC.
The exit of Cohen, who oversaw CNBC's programming schedule and business reporting, leaves the channel without an executive with significant editorial experience on its leadership team.
After former CNBC CEO Bill Bolster was reassigned to CNBC International last July, NBC executives passed on Cohen for the CEO post, and promoted former CNBC.com CEO Pamela Thomas-Graham to CEO of CNBC.
Thomas-Graham, an author who spent most of her career as a McKinsey & Co. consultant, has focused much of her attention on CNBC's ad-sales efforts, leaving Cohen to run the programming department.
CNBC said executive producer David Friend would oversee the newsroom until a permanent replacement for Cohen is found.
The network said Cohen wouldn't return to CNBC after his four-month sabbatical, but that he'd explore a senior management post at NBC.
As the economy slid over the past year, CNBC has struggled to maintain its ratings. Meanwhile, competitors Fox News Channel and Cable News Networks have gained in the Nielsens.
For the third quarter, CNBC ratings are down 33 percent in the total-day category and 50 percent in primetime. The network has averaged a 0.2 rating in both categories.
In the same period, CNN is up 67 percent in total-day ratings and 29 percent in primetime, while Fox News is up 50 percent in total-day and 57 percent in primetime.