LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Comedian Jon Stewart, famed for his biting television satire of politicians and the media, will leave as the host of Comedy Central's parody newscast "The Daily Show" later this year, the Viacom Inc-owned cable network said on Tuesday.
Stewart, 52, has starred on "The Daily Show" since 1999, when he replaced Craig Kilborn as host of the late-night cable program.
The New York-based show, which airs weeknights at 11 p.m., is expected to continue, the network said, but a replacement for Stewart has yet to be named.
There was no immediate explanation for Stewart's departure, and it was not clear whether the comedian was moving to another network or endeavor.
The announcement came after Comedy Central's other big name, former "Daily Show" contributor Stephen Colbert, ended his tenure as star of the companion show "The Colbert Report" and left the network in December.
Colbert quit Comedy Central to succeed the retiring David Letterman as host of the "Late Show" on CBS.
Comedy Central said Stewart would address his exit on Tuesday's edition of the show, which has won Peabody and Emmy awards.
"Through his unique voice and vision, 'The Daily Show' has become a cultural touchstone for millions of fans and an unparalleled platform for political comedy that will endure for years to come," Comedy Central President Michele Ganeless said in a statement.
"The Daily Show" averages slightly more than 1 million viewers a night, a much smaller audience than his late-night competition on broadcast networks, but Stewart became disproportionately influential in U.S. politics and culture.
His lampooning of elected and would-be office-holders, broadcast journalists and other public figures, especially on the conservative end of the spectrum, has made him a darling of the political left.
Young adult viewers make up the core of his fan base. In a 2004 poll by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, 21 percent of respondents aged 18 to 29 cited "The Daily Show" as a regular source of political news.
A two-time Oscar host who has branched out into the movie industry, Stewart made his directorial debut with the film "Rosewater" last year.
Beginning his show business career in stand-up comedy in New York, Stewart took his satirical humor to MTV in 1993, where he hosted "The Jon Stewart Show."
"The Daily Show" has been a career launching pad for several comedians besides Colbert, including Steve Carell and John Oliver.
(Reporting by Eric Kelsey and Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Steve Gorman, Chris Reese, Toni Reinhold and Cynthia Osterman)