Exec to remain at Eye for three more years

CBS News prexy Andrew Heyward has inked a new deal that will keep him at the helm of the Eye web’s news operations for at least another three years.

Reps for CBS News declined to comment on Heyward’s employment pact, but industry insiders say the multiyear deal was finalized late last week. Heyward’s existing contract was said to expire at the end of this month.

Heyward, a 22-year CBS vet, has headed the news division since January 1996. His tenure has been marked by an expansion of CBS News programming in primetime, on weekends and on weekday mornings, as well as significant ratings improvement notched by CBS’ nightly newscast.

But Heyward also presided over one of the more embarrassing moments in the storied history of CBS News: The web’s woefully late response to the death of Princess Diana in August 1997. CBS’ domestic competitors were on the air with the breaking story for more than an hour before CBS News pulled together a report. That delay prompted many CBS affils to switch to other news-feed services such as CNN.

At the time, Heyward took responsibility for the critical breakdown in communications between desk editors and top brass. Heyward later demoted the top CBS News exec in charge of news gathering and instituted a number of measures to improve the network’s response time on breaking news.

Heyward spent two years as the exec producer of “The CBS Evening News” before he was upped to news division prexy in 1996. He began his career at CBS as a news writer for the Eye’s Gotham O&O, WCBS. He moved on to the network side in March 1981 as a field producer for the nightly news.

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