'Time to kick this mob and Kim Williams out from News'
NEWS Corporation chief executive Kim Williams has stepped down from the role and will be replaced by Julian Clarke.
Media industry website B & T said the company has confirmed the news this morning, and will release a statement soon.
Williams took over from the outspoken John Hartigan in November 2011, after several years of leading Foxtel.
In his time in the role he has overseen the overhaul of the company's publishing operations, cutting hundreds of staff from papers like The Australian, The Daily Telegraph and The Herald Sun, and becoming mroe digitally-focussed.
He also had a hand in the merger of regional pay-TV provider Austar into Foxtel, and was an outspoken critic of recent government plans to increase media regulation.
The move comes after News' tabloids, particularly the Daily Telegraph, copped a barrage of criticism over their biased coverage of the federal election targeting Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.
Mr Rudd asked questions this week about the relationship between Mr Murdoch and Opposition leader Tony Abbott.
Fairfax reported this week that the arrival of former New York Post editor Col Allan in Australia has certainly ruffled feathers in the News Corp camp.
"One person who should rightly be disconcerted by Allan's sudden secondment to Australia is the head of News Corporation Australia, Kim Williams. Several other executives should also be leery, but they are not Allan's primary target,'' Paul Sheehan wrote in an opinion piece in the Sydney Morning Herald.
"His primary target is Kevin Rudd.
"Why Murdoch wants Rudd to lose the coming federal election is not merely political, it is commercial.
"News Corp hates the government's National Broadband Network (NBN). The company has formed a view that it poses a threat to the business model of by far its most important asset in Australia, the Foxtel cable TV monopoly it jointly owns with Telstra."
Allan's mission is to help consign Rudd to the dustbin of history reserved for failed leaders.
The ramp-up of the war effort has been rapid and intense.
The report was predictably rubbished by News Corp though the Daily Telegraph's front page on Monday left no-one in doubt who it was targeting.
Rupert Murdoch pays tribute to Kim Williams
"I want to sincerely thank Kim, first for his nearly two decades of service to News Corp; but more importantly, for his loyalty and friendship to me and my family all of these years," Mr Murdoch said.
"From the early days when we opened Fox Studios Australia, to his tenacious work building Foxtel and Fox Sports into the powerhouse it is today, Kim has always operated with great integrity and skill.
"It was with that in mind that I turned to him and asked him to leave the security of the pay TV business and takeover the whole of our Australian operations as chief executive of News Corp Australia.
"Kim has been a steady and courageous leader at a time when our businesses have faced unprecedented pressure and economic challenges.
"I want to thank him for his unwavering commitment, and the blood, sweat and tears he has put into News Corp Australia. We wish him well in all future endeavours and look forward to continuing our friendship in the years to come."
Mr Clarke, who starts in his new role on Monday, is long-standing News executive.
He stepped down from the HWT board in June, and retired as managing director of the Herald and Weekly Times in 2007. He began his career in 1960 at Standard Newspapers.
Kim Williams' statement to News Corp staff
An action like this is always taken with a heavy heart and a mixed bag of feelings and reflections on a wide range of experiences with News Corp across almost 20 years.
It is certainly not a decision made lightly, or without an awareness of the impact decisions like this inevitably have on many close colleagues, clients and diverse bodies within the media community.
I started with News Corp back in 1995 and have worked with the company ever since in three roles - as CEO at FOX Studios Australia, CEO of FOXTEL and as CEO at News Corp Australia. Each role has offered a diversity of challenges and wonderful opportunities. I have enjoyed the responsibility and have been honoured to work with many extraordinarily talented people.
Whilst the leadership roles and the issues encountered have at times been frankly really confronting, it has been a source of perpetual renewal and reinforcement to have worked with so many terrific colleagues both here and internationally.
It is the people that one remembers the most. I will be forever grateful to those who have been so helpful and constructively supportive in the many matters we have mutually confronted.
There have been many good wins matched with some memorable awful problems and opponents! It has all been the stuff of a rich and varied professional life that I would never have had without the benefit of the trust reposed in me by many great colleagues at News Corp.
I wish Rupert Murdoch, Robert Thomson, their new management team in the new News Corp and all my international colleagues nothing but the best continued success with the product and commercial rewards that their efforts so richly deserve.
I am genuinely in awe at the range and depth of talent in the company here and in the international arena and have great confidence in the future and all that it holds for the new enterprise.
Finally, I thank all my Australian colleagues for their support, understanding and commitment to the company, its products and customers over a long time. There are far too many people to single any one out - you all know who you are and what we have shared together!