CBS corporate heads were rolling from coast to coast Monday.
The president of the network's TV-stations division was asked to leave in the morning in New York, and the general manager of KCBS-TV Channel 2 in Los Angeles was asked for his resignation in the afternoon.
Network insiders said the dual resignations Monday of TV stations Division President Neil Derrough and KCBS' Frank Gardner were tied to the dismal showing so far of Channel 2's much-publicized new late-afternoon news format.
The new format, which sandwiches news broadcasts among 20-minute segments on health, family issues, life styles and other so-called "back of the book" features, was billed as the "next generation of local news" when KCBS unveiled it last month.
Critics were harsh on the new format, however.
More importantly to the network's New York brass, the new format failed to pull the CBS owned-and-operated station out of the third-place position it has held in the city in recent years.
According to CBS sources, New York officials ordered Derrough to fire KCBS' Gardner. Derrough refused, however, and was asked to resign Monday morning.
Within a few hours, Derrough's temporary replacement, CBS/Broadcast Group Executive Vice President Neal Pilson, was on a Los Angeles-bound plane. Late in the afternoon, Pilson informed Gardner that CBS wanted his resignation too.
The pair of executives became the latest CBS fall guys under the corporation's new leadership: Laurence A. Tisch, acting chief executive, and founder William S. Paley, acting chairman.
Forced out in the immediate wake of last month's very public top-level shake-up were former CBS Inc. Chairman and President Thomas H. Wyman and CBS News President Van Gordon Sauter.
The Derrough and Gardner resignations briefly shift the focus from CBS' network news problems, which have attracted most of the public's attention throughout the monthlong management drama at the network, and focus on problems in CBS' four TV stations in New York, Chicago and Philadelphia in addition to Los Angeles.