After 20 almost years with the Fox Television Station Group, president Tom Herwitz is exiting the company.
His departure comes just weeks after Fox News chief Roger Ailes took over the station group following the departure of former News Corp. Deputy COO and Station Group Chairman Lachlan Murdoch. Former Ailes lieutenant Jack Abernathy arrived last year to be the group’s CEO above Herwitz.
Fox has been expected to give the stations a more FNC-like branding given the success of its cable news net.
Herwitz, who was based in Washington, started with Fox when the company owned only 6 stations. The group has grown to 35 stations and 900 hours of news.
Herwitz, who helped build the initial Fox brand from the ground up, was working for FCC Chairman Mark Fowler when he joined the company in 1986 after the purchase of the Metromedia stations from John Kluge, which formed what would become the nucleus of the Fox station group.
He helped launch one of the net’s first signature show, America’s Most Wanted, from D.C., then became the GM of its WTTG there before leaving to join Savoy Pictures in 1993. He helped build SF (Savoy Fox) Broadcasting, buying stations in big markets and shaking up the affiliate marketplace by switching their affiliations to Fox, including notably in Green Bay, Wis., and New Orleans.
He rejoined the Fox group at the request of then-station head Mitch Stern, after Fox essentially doubled in size with the purchase of the New World stations, then Chris-Craft.
Herwitz told B&C he was still mulling future plans, but said he was grateful for the incredible opportunities he had been given at Fox.
Recently, Washington D.C.-based Herwitz had been very involved with the effects of Nielsen’s new Local People Meter systems on Fox-owned stations, many of which have seen ratings drop under the new measurement system.