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News Limited boss John Hartigan steps down; Kim Williams to replace him; Freudenstein moves back to Foxtel

News Limited chairman and CEO John Hartigan is stepping down after 41 years of service.

Hartigan will be replaced as CEO by Kim Williams, who currently runs Foxtel. Richard Freudenstein, currently boss of News Digital Media and The Australian will move across to Foxtel to replace Williams. Freudenstein helped launch Foxtel and also had a senior role at BSkyB in the UK.

In a letter to staff, Hartigan said:

“There is a great spirit at News. A real conviction about what we do and enormous integrity in the way we do it. I will miss it immensely.

“But it is time to hand over to the next generation. I do so with great pride and more than a little sadness.”

The announcement followed a visit to Australia by News Corp boss Rupert Murdoch, who will become chairman of News Limited.

In a statement 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”

Hartigan joined the company in 1970 as a reporter on the now defunct Daily Mirror. He edited Queensland’s Sunday Sun and The Daily Sun,  and was editor-in-chief  of The Daily Telegraph and The Sunday Telegraph in Sydney. He  became CEO of News Limited in 2000.

Hartigan said in a statement: “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.”

In 2008  Hartigan was awarded the Walkley Award for Journalistic Leadership.

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