(Feb. 24, 2009) LOS ANGELES: Peter Chernin will relinquish leadership of the Fox Group, News Corp. has announced. Chernin, president and chief operating officer of the group, will leave when his contract expires June 30, after putting in 20 years with News Corp. Chernin will launch a “Fox-based production company” later this year, while News Corp. chief Rupert Murdoch will take up oversight of the Fox Group until a successor can be found. The group includes the Fox broadcast network, TV stations, MyNetworkTV, Star, Foxtel and Fox Sports Australia.

The Australian mentions several possible successors, including former News Corp. executive Chase Carey, now the head of DirecTV, which John Malone wrested from News Corp. Another name was James Murdoch, the chief’s 36-year-old son; though Wall Street analyst Jessica Reif Cohen said he might be considered too young. Whomever does take the reins will have to navigate the imploded broadcast industry, the Hollywood creative community, and, of course, Wall Street, which will continue to bandy its favorites.

Rich Greenfield of Pali Research has a plan for Viacom, for example--picking up Chernin.

“While we have a hard time believing Peter Chernin would ever consider working for someone like Sumner Redstone, not to mention he probably has a lengthy non-compete, we believe hiring Chernin would be the smartest move Mr. Redstone could make,” Greenfield writes in his blog. While we expect Chernin to leverage his movie production deal with News Corp. and to focus his energy on humanitarian endeavors, there is a significant value creation opportunity at Viacom. Investors loath Viacom’s senior management team, including Redstone and [Phillipe] Dauman, and would welcome a trusted executive such as Chernin… who oversaw tremendous growth in cable network and film assets at News Corp.”

News Corp. (NASDAQ: NWSA) was trading at between $5.80 and $5.90 throughout the morning, down from about $6 yesterday, but basically following the markets.