Rupert Murdoch has announced that John Hartigan will step down as chairman and chief executive officer of News Limited, replaced by Kim Williams.
Outgoing Foxtel CEO Williams is replaced by News Digital boss Richard Freudenstein. Rupert Murdoch becomes chairman of News Limited when Hartigan departs on 30 November.
A News Limited source said Freudenstein, who also oversaw The Australian, may not be directly replaced. For now, The Australian will be overseen by chief operating officer John Allan. News Digital Media will be led by chief operating officer, Stuart Spiteri.
The source said Williams will be responsible for making a decision about Freudenstein's previous role.
Speculation has been rife for weeks that Murdoch would make big changes to News Limited's management team on his annual trip. The timing of the changes also coincides with a government media inquiry, in which News Limited is attracting heat from the Julia Gillard government and the Greens.
“John’s decision will end a distinguished 41 year career with News in which he has given us exemplary service and incredible leadership,” Murdoch said.
“John was an outstanding reporter, an editor with few peers and has been an inspiring executive, initially as Group Editorial Director and, later, as Chief Executive for 11 years and Chairman and Chief Executive for the past six. “Few people have contributed as much as John to the quality of journalism in Australia. He has earned enormous respect among both colleagues and competitors.”
Hartigan said: "I am immensely proud of News. I am privileged to have worked for such a great company. I want to thank the many colleagues that have helped, encouraged, inspired and challenged me to the best I can be.
"As a reporter I worked with some great editors. As an editor I worked with incredibly talented people and as a senior executive I could not have asked for a better management team.
"In Rupert I have been fortunate to work for a proprietor who cares passionately about journalism and the vital role that a free press plays in a democracy."
Williams takes over as CEO of News Limited after ten years as CEO of pay TV operator Foxtel. The Williams appointment is effective from 5 December.
Murdoch said of the appointment: "In his new role, Kim will be responsible for building a strong leadership position for News Limited in digital media in Australia, significantly expanding the audience for our journalism and ensuring that our newspapers remain clear leaders in each of their markets. I believe Kim is perfectly placed to drive the next phase of this exciting transformation."
On Freudenstein, Murdoch said: "Richard has been an outstanding executive with News for almost two decades. He has a highly successful record in pay TV in the UK and Australia and in digital media in Australia where he has built a portfolio of digital properties that now reach 6.5 million people every month.
"We could not have found a better replacement for Kim Williams than Richard Freudenstein."
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