Mr. Jackson, a bassist and music-industry executive, acted as a buffer to the caustic Simon Cowell during the program's most popular years. More recently he was a stabilizing presence as celebrity judges came and went.
This season, with pop divas Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey feuding, the audience for "Idol" is down about 20%, based on Nielsen ratings. The show, no longer No. 1 among prime-time programs, still ranks in the top 10. Fox, the broadcast network owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., was set to fire all four judges, including country music star Keith Urban, the website TheWrap.com reported this week.
"To put all of the speculation to rest, after 12 years of judging on 'American Idol' I have decided to leave after this season," Jackson said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. "I am very proud of how we forever changed television and the music industry."
Gaude Paez, a spokeswoman for Fox, declined to comment.
"American Idol" airs two nights a week, on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and is averaging 15 million viewers per episode since it returned in January, according to Nielsen data. It's the most popular show for Fox, which suffered a 20% drop in audience ratings for the season through May 5.
Mr. Jackson's exit comes as the broadcast TV networks prepare for their upfront meetings with advertisers in New York next week, where they will preview lineups for the season that starts in September. Fox releases its schedule on May 13.
Mr. Jackson told the E! News website yesterday he planned to leave the show.
~ Bloomberg News~