One of the long-serving TV scheduling executives, Fox’s Preston Beckman, is stepping down from active duty to take on an advisory role for Fox Networks Group, which includes Fox as well as cable networks like FX. Beckman had been looking to retire for awhile. The new position was a way for FNG chairman Peter Rice to keep him around for another 3 years. Beckman won’t make the move until June, so he will be hands-on involved in making Fox’s schedule for next season. Fox is expected to announce his successor in within a few weeks. Here is the release:

Preston Beckman, Fox Broadcasting Company’s EVP of strategic program planning and research, will transition into a new role as Senior Strategist for Fox Networks Group, it was announced today by Peter Rice, Chairman of Entertainment, Fox Networks Group. In this new role beginning June 2012, Dr. Beckman will provide his expertise and strategic insight in scheduling, programming and research across all FNG entertainment divisions, reporting directly to Rice.

“FOX has been incredibly fortunate to have Preston guiding our schedule for the past decade and seven consecutive years of No. 1 finishes,” said Rice. “His strategic mind and love of television make him the Muhammad Ali of scheduling executives, and we all look forward to working closely with him, here at Fox, for many more years.”

“In my job, you’re only as good as the people who bring us their ideas and the executives who nurture and market the shows. I have been very fortunate to work with the best in the business and to have a scheduling team that is second to none,” said Beckman. “I also want to thank Peter for persuading me to remain in the FNG family and for giving me the opportunity to transition over the next three years to whatever path I choose to follow.”

For the past 11 years, Dr. Beckman served as Executive Vice President, Strategic Program Planning and Research for FOX, overseeing the scheduling strategy around series launches, sweeps events and the design and implementation of year-round programming operations. During the first several years of his tenure, Dr. Beckman was a key member of the executive team that shaped FOX into the No. 1 broadcast network in the coveted Adults 18-49 demographic. Since then, he has been instrumental in sustaining FOX’s No. 1 rank for the past seven consecutive seasons and has spearheaded some of the network’s most successful scheduling strategies. Dr. Beckman has worked closely with FOX Alternative Entertainment President Mike Darnell on the scheduling and formatting of the network’s hit reality competition shows – AMERICAN IDOL, SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE and THE X FACTOR – including the creation of the two-night format of a performance show and a results show. In addition, Dr. Beckman successfully moved the “24” premiere from fall to January in order to run the entire season uninterrupted; shifted AMERICAN IDOL to Wednesdays and Thursdays, giving FOX its first toehold on Thursday nights; and used sophomore hit GLEE to launch the network’s first live-action comedy block in over a decade.

Prior to joining FOX in May 2000, Dr. Beckman served for nearly 20 years at NBC, where he rose to Executive Vice President, Program Planning & Scheduling, NBC Entertainment. As the executive responsible for long-range primetime program planning and scheduling, he helped NBC to victories in more than 20 sweeps periods and four consecutive (1995-99) broadcast seasons. He also served as a key liaison between NBC Entertainment and NBC News on “Dateline NBC” from the 1992 premiere of that award-winning newsmagazine, and was involved in developing and overseeing such reality shows and specials as “I Witness Video,” “World’s Most Amazing Videos” and “You Asked for It.”