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Malone Taking Over at Liberty

The news comes as Wall Street awaits a clash of hard-hitting media titans with News Corp.'s Rupert Murdoch.
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Hard-charging John Malone is retaking the helm of his

Liberty Media

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Malone, Liberty's controlling shareholder, will take over as CEO with longtime chief Dob Bennett departing, the media holding company said Wednesday. The news comes as Malone prepares to joust with

News Corp.

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hard-hitter Rupert Murdoch over Malone's stake in that media giant.

Liberty stunned Wall Street and Murdoch late last year by saying it had doubled its stake in News Corp. to 18%. News Corp. was stung again last week by the unexpected departure of Lachlan Murdoch, who had been seen as his father's heir apparent.

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Bennett will retire April 1, 2006, though he will remain a director of Liberty and will continue to work with the company on special projects. He will also continue as president and a director of the newly formed

Discovery Holding

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, which was spun off from Liberty last month. Bennett was CEO for nine years, followiong six years as the CFO.

"As one of the original Liberty executives, Dob has been involved in the entire history of the company," said Malone. "The Liberty Board of Directors joins me in thanking him for his contributions to the growth and success of the company and in wishing him well as he moves into the next phase of his life. We are pleased that we will continue to benefit from his experience and expertise in his remaining role as a company director."

Liberty owns interests in a wide range of media and communications businesses, including




Shares in Liberty were down 11 cents to $8.61 in afternoon trading.