NEW YORK — The president of CBS Publishing Group and 14 members of his executive staff Thursday became the latest to depart from CBS since the appointment of acting Chief Executive Laurence A. Tisch.
Peter A. Derow and his staff were forced out as part of the management effort to slim CBS' ranks, a source said. Derow, whose departure is effective immediately, was told of the changes during a morning meeting with Tisch, according to the source.
Since Tisch took on his new role following the ouster of former Chief Executive Thomas H. Wyman on Sept. 10, Van Gordon Sauter has departed as head of CBS News and Neil Derrough has given up his post as head of CBS Television Stations.
Derow and his staff formed a layer of management above the group's two divisions, the CBS Magazine division and the CBS Educational and Professional Publishing division. Peter Diamandis, magazine division head, and Harry A. McQuillen, head of the educational and professional publishing division, now will report directly to Tisch, a spokesman said.
Derow, 46, a former president and chairman of Newsweek Inc., did not return telephone calls seeking further comment.
Tisch has made clear his interest in thinning the population in CBS' executive suite, but Derow was not among those most frequently mentioned as possible departures. "After all, it was the broadcast group's problems that were getting all the attention," said Mark Riely, analyst with the Eberstadt Fleming brokerage in New York. "This does surprise me."
Said one insider: "It makes it a bit easier for Tisch to eliminate jobs of the rank and file if he's cut some off the top as well."
The publishing division accounted for 15% of the company's revenue and 9% of its profit last year, a far smaller share than either the broadcast or records groups.
The division's 1985 acquisition of 12 consumer magazines from Ziff-Davis Publishing Co. for $363 million--CBS' largest acquisition ever--brought criticism that the company had overpaid carelessly. After the purchase, CBS sued Ziff, asserting that Ziff had misrepresented the profits of the magazines.
Some saw the lawsuit as a graceless attempt to recoup money that CBS wouldn't have offered had it paid closer attention to the Ziff magazines' books.
Derow was not without admirers, however. "He's a good manager," said John Reidy, an analyst with the Drexel Burnham Lambert investment house. If the magazine group has had a lackluster year, "the whole industry's been weak, too."
In an interview Sept. 11, after a meeting of top executives with Tisch, Derow said Tisch had told the senior staff that he did not contemplate any quick changes.