WTVT names new general manager as station's former leader moves to resolve lewdness charges
An attorney for Robert Linger, the former general manager at WTVT-Ch. 13, has revealed that Linger will be entering a misdemeanor diversion program to resolve charges of lewd behavior and exposure of a sexual organ related to a May 17 arrest. (See the first story here)
The lawyer's announcement came minutes after Fox released a statement naming Bill Schneider Vice President and General Manager of WTVT, effectively replacing Linger, who had been on leave since his arrest. Fox's statement regarding Schneider -- who will come to Tampa next week from KDVR-TV, the Fox-owned station in Denver -- does not mention Linger or his arrest.
(UPDATE: A Fox spokeswoman says Linger will move to a job as VP of infrastructure for Fox TV Stations, putting him in charge of internal systems efficiencies. He will be based out of Tampa, though in an office space separate from WTVT)
Rumors have percolated for days that Linger's attorney, Steve Romine, was negotiating a resolution to the arrest that would not involve pleading guilty or a trial. Linger was among among six men arrested May 16 and accused of masturbating on the premises of the Fantasy Land Adult Video Store in Tampa. Police said Linger and five other men formed a circle around two undercover police officers and began the act.
"We've disputed the allegtions from the beginning and believe the case should have been dismissed," Romine said." And in furtherance of that goal, we're going to resolve this through diversion, which ensures the case is dimissed. It was that route which accomplished our goal without dragging this out."
Acording to Romine, such diversion pacts are not a conviction or admission of guilt, but an agreement by the accused to complete some requirements -- usually community service and some fine and/or court costs -- along with a pledge not to commit another crime. Romine said the exact terms of Linger's diversion will be determined at a later date.
Romine could not comment on whether Linger would remain employed by WTVT or Fox, leaving open the question of whether he could return to work in Tampa or be transferred to another station.
I expect to update this story quite a bit today as information progresses. Here's the release Fox sent out below.
FOX TELEVISION STATIONS NAMES BILL SCHNEIDER VICE PRESIDENT AND GENERAL MANAGER OF WTVT FOX 13
NEW YORK – Bill Schneider has been named Vice President and General Manager of WTVT-TV FOX 13 in Tampa, announced Jack Abernethy, Chief Executive Officer, Fox Television Stations (FTS). Reporting directly to Abernethy, Schneider will be responsible for overseeing the station’s business and operations.
In making the announcement, Abernethy stated, “During his tenure with the Fox owned-and-operated stations, Bill has proven himself as a great leader with a seasoned enthusiasm for the possibilities of local television. He will be a valuable asset to FOX 13 as we look to grow the station’s position in the market.”
Schneider comes to FOX 13 after nearly six years as Vice President/General Manager of KDVR-TV FOX 31, the FTS owned-and-operated station in Denver. Prior to this, he was Vice President and Director of Sales for WAGA-TV FOX 5 in Atlanta. Previously, he was with Turner Broadcasting, where he was Director of Corporate and Broadcast Sales for the Atlanta Hawks. Before that, he spent more than a decade in sales capacities for WTBS-TV and WZGC Radio in Atlanta.
Added Schneider, “I’m honored to take on this new role. The chance to work alongside the talented team at FOX 13 is a tremendous opportunity.”
Born in Des Moines, Iowa, Schneider holds a communications degree from Mercer University in Atlanta.
The Fox Television Stations, one of the nation's largest owned-and-operated network broadcast groups, comprises 35 stations in 26 markets, covering nearly 45% of U.S. television homes. This includes six duopolies in the top 10 markets: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Washington D.C. and Houston; as well as duopolies in Minneapolis, Phoenix and Orlando.