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CBS Executive Roger M. King Dies at 63

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JOHN ROGERS | December 8, 2007 09:52 PM EST | AP

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LOS ANGELES — Roger M. King, the CBS and King World Productions executive who helped bring stars including Oprah Winfrey, Alex Trebek and "Dr. Phil" McGraw to television, died Saturday of a stroke, a CBS spokesman said. He was 63.

King was stricken at his home in Boca Raton, Fla., on Friday and died Saturday at a hospital, CBS spokesman Chris Ender told The Associated Press.

At the time of his death King was chief executive officer of CBS Television Distribution. He joined the network in 2000 when his groundbreaking company, King World Productions, merged with CBS.

"Television has lost a legend, a truly original executive with an unparalleled combination of business acumen, passion and personality. CBS has lost a colleague and a good friend," CBS President and CEO Leslie Moonves said in a statement. "It's a very sad day for CBS and for all of broadcasting."

Under King's guidance, King World became the industry's leading distributor of first-run, syndicated programming, bringing such shows to television as "The Oprah Winfrey Show" and "Dr. Phil." He also launched the long-running syndicated news magazine "Inside Edition."

"Roger was the best sales executive this industry has ever known," Winfrey said in a statement supplied by CBS. "I will never forget what he did for me. And this industry will never forget his legendary presence."

The King-syndicated "Wheel of Fortune" introduced the public to host Pat Sajak and letter turner Vanna White. CBS said it has been television's No. 1 syndicated show for the last 23 years. The King-syndicated version of "Jeopardy!", with Trebek as host, has ranked among television's top three syndicated shows for 22 years.

"His passing will leave a huge void in all of our lives, just as his dedication has left an indelible mark on the landscape of television," McGraw said in a statement from CBS. "There will never be another Roger King."

CBS said King was responsible for the syndicated sale of reruns of several network prime-time shows, including "Everybody Loves Raymond," "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," and reality shows including "Survivor," "The Amazing Race," and "America's Top Model."

Before becoming chairman of the board of King World in 1977, King worked in newspaper sales, radio and television. His father, Charles King, founded King World in 1964.

King was inducted into the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame in 1992 and the National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2004.