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In a town that loves a hot rumor, the latest Hollywood gossip is that Peter Chernin, Rupert Murdoch's second-in-command for the last 12 years at News Corp. (NWS), might be leaving the company sometime this year. His contract expires on June 30, and both Murdoch and Chernin have been tight-lipped about the progress they've been making on extending his 2004 deal.
Odds are News Corp. President Chernin won't be leaving; he waited to sign his most recent contract until the last one had actually expired. But the buzz remains that he's thinking of bolting, and the timing couldn't be worse for News Corp. The parent of Fox Broadcasting and The Wall Street Journal recently reported a massive $7.6 billion second-quarter loss, much of it related to writing down the declining value of its TV stations and newspapers. And at $6.78 a share, News Corp.'s stock is trading near a 10-year low.
News Corp. is mum on Chernin's plans, but the 57-year-old executive wouldn