George W. Hoyt, who heads a suburban Chicago newspaper group owned by Time Inc., has been named to a key executive position at The Washington Star, according to Time Inc. officials.

Hoyt's appointment appears likely to provide the first clues to what changes Time Inc. may make in The Star's operations since the publishing giant announced plans to take over the afternoon newspaper last February.

Hoyt 41, has gained a reputation for carrying out major cost-cutting measures at Pioneer Press, Inc. a chain of 17 suburban Chicago weekly papers. Time Inc. officials say Hoyt turned the slumping newspaper group into a profitable venture in his seven years there.

Hoyt's specific assignment and title at The Star have not been announced, although some officials familiar with his appointment said his position would be the equivalent of president or general manager.

James H. Smith was fired in March as Star president by Joe L. Allbritton, The Star's former owner and current publisher. No successor has been named. W. Dean Singleton, an Allbritton assistant who temporarily filled in at the Star after Smith's dismissal, said yesterday that he has resumed his previous assignments as chief of Allbritton's overall newspaper operations.

Hoyt's move to Washington will be announced today in the Pioneer Press newspapers, according to Time Inc. officials. "He will be the first Time person to be going to the Star permanently," Donald M. Wilson, vice president of Time Inc. for corporate and public affairs, said yesterday. Hoyt, who arrived in Washington Monday, could not be reached for comment last night. Allbritton spokesman Steve Richard declined to confirm Hoyt's appointment.

The arrival of Time Inc.'s first key Star executive appeared to raise further uncertainty about Allbritton's own tenure at The Star. When the Time Inc. takeover of the Star was first announced, Allbritton said he planned to stay on as Star publisher for at least five years.

Since then, however, a series of Federal Communications Commission proceedings has cast doubt over whether Allbritton will be allowed to continue as The Star's publisher. In March, Allbritton dropped his previous plan to swap WJLA-TV, which he owns, for an Oklahoma City television station. Under some interpretations of FCC rulings, Allbritton must leave The Star if he plans to retain control of WJLA-TV.

Allbritton was unavailable for comment yesterday. Several of Allbritton's adviser said yesterday that Allbritton does not plan to step aside as Star publisher, while others declined to comment. One person who talked with Allbritton recently said Allbritton appeared not to have made up his mind.

Hoyt, who was born in Portland Oregon, was an advertising salesman, business manager and general manager for several Oregon publishing firms before joining Pioneer Pressin 1971.