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Fox News Ad-Sales Chief Paul Rittenberg to Step Down

Variety logo Variety 2/27/2017 Brian Steinberg
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Paul Rittenberg, the ad-sales executive who has helped line up ad support for Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network personalities like Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity, will step down from his post, the 21st Century Fox-owned outlet announced Monday. An immediate successor was not named, but one is expected to be named in coming months, said a Fox News spokesperson.

Rittenberg has been executive vice president of as sales, and will step down on April 28.

His departure is the latest in a veritable parade of senior advertising sales honchos leaving the TV business as it becomes increasingly complex and more reliant on sales of digital media. In recent months, Discovery Communications, ABC, Viacom, AMC Networks and NBCUniversal have experienced similar transitions. Rittenberg’s announcement comes as Fox Networks Group, the 21st Century Fox unit that comprises Fox Broadcasting, FX, and Fox Sports 1, is in the midst of its own search for a senior ad-sales executive. Toby Byrne, the former inhabitant of that role, left last year after he and Fox could not come to terms on a new contract.

“Throughout his 20 plus years at Fox News, Paul has developed powerful relationships with clients and built one of the most respected and successful teams in the industry,” said  Jack Abernethy and Bill Shine, co-presidents of Fox News Channel, in a prepared statement. “Coming off our most profitable year yet, we are tremendously grateful to him for his many contributions in making both FOX News Channel and FOX Business Network the most coveted marketing platforms in cable.”

Rittenberg proved instrumental in gaining advertiser acceptance for Fox News. In the network’s earlier days, he pressed hard for increases in the rate of reaching 1,000 viewers, a metric known as a CPM  that is pivotal in talks between TV networks and advertisers, even as Time Warner’s CNN had notched rapid gains in the same measure. These days, Fox News draws a handily bigger audience than its rival. He was among the business unit’s first handful of employees

Rittenberg is the second business-side veteran to leave the unit in recent months. Tim Carry, who had been involved in negotiating distribution deals for both Fox News and Fox Business since their launches, announced his departure from the company in November.

He joined Fox News in April of 1996 as vice president of advertising – six months prior to the network’s launch. He had worked previously as vice president of ad sales at CNBC. He also held several management roles within ABC.

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