NEW YORK -- CBS yesterday appointed its top sports executive, Sean McManus, to replace Andrew Heyward as head of a news division still searching for Dan Rather's replacement and seeking to rebound from last year's discredited report on President Bush's military service.
McManus, 50, follows in the path of the late Roone Arledge at ABC as an executive who took over a network news division while still running sports.
Heyward will leave two months shy of his 10th anniversary running the legendary news division, a distant third in the ratings in both the morning and evening yet still the home of TV's top newsmagazine, ''60 Minutes."
''There was a general feeling that we needed a new vision, just a new way of looking at the news division," said CBS chief Leslie Moonves.
CBS is part of the media conglomerate Viacom Inc.
Moonves has expressed discontent this fall about the ideas he's been given for revamping the ''CBS Evening News." Rather stepped down in March as its anchorman, and had made his intentions known publicly nearly a year ago.
Many in the news industry were surprised that Heyward had survived in January when an independent report faulted CBS News for rushing a story about Bush's military service onto the air without proving that documents upon which it was based were real. Three executives were forced to resign and the report's producer, Mary Mapes, was fired; Moonves concluded that Heyward had been let down by his staff.
McManus will take over as news chief on Nov. 7, one day before Mapes' book on the episode will be published.
Heyward, who described his departure as amicable, said he believed his exit had nothing to do with that incident. ''This is Leslie wanting a change and so do I," said Heyward, 55, who expects to remain active in the media business.