The goal of the appointment and reorganization, NBCUniversal chief Steve Burke says in a staff memo, is to “enhance collaboration among our news brands.” That means NBC News’ Steve Capus and CNBC’s Mark Hoffman now will report to Fili-Krushel not Burke. And the new NBCUniversal News Group chairman — who has no newsroom experience — has to right a news operation that’s taking it on the chin. Rivals have gained so much ground on shows including Today, NBC Nightly News, and Meet The Press that even the typically NBC-friendly New York Times recently observed: “For the first time in more than a decade, NBC News appears adrift.”
Here’s the note Burke sent to employees:
I am writing to let you know that we are creating a new division called the NBCUniversal News Group. This division will be composed of NBC News, CNBC, MSNBC and the Weather Channel and it will be led by Pat Fili-Krushel as Chairman. Steve Capus, Mark Hoffman and Phil Griffin will continue in their current roles and Mark and Steve will continue to serve on the Executive Committee.
Our news businesses are the most powerful, important and profitable in the industry. Each of our news channels is a category leader and tens of millions of viewers look to us every day for fast and reliable information and analysis. I am confident that placing all of these assets into one group will accelerate their growth, individually and collectively.
Pat is a great fit for this role. She has a wealth of experience in cable and broadcast television. While at Disney, she ran the ABC Television Network, which included ABC News, and she launched the daytime talk show The View. She has held senior positions in programming and production at Lifetime and HBO and immediately before joining NBCUniversal was Executive Vice President of Administration at Time Warner. Since joining NBCUniversal at the close of the deal she has been a valuable member of my senior team and she has my complete confidence.
This new division is designed to enhance collaboration among our news brands. Our experience over the last 18 months demonstrated that Symphony is a real differentiator for us. Whether it’s launching a new TV show, producing the Olympics or promoting a film, the more we work together the better we do. We’ve seen this in a big way with the NBC Sports Group, which enables all our sports properties, both broadcast and cable, to collaborate in new and productive ways. It is now time to take the same approach with our news businesses.
Our news properties already have a history of working well together, from CNBC and MSNBC talent appearing on Today to all three of our cable news networks along with NBC News and our local stations coordinating coverage of Hurricane Irene. Today, by placing NBC News, MSNBC, CNBC and the Weather Channel into the NBCUniversal News Group, we are creating a structure that should help foster even more cooperation.
With the London Olympics beginning next week, the presidential election this fall, and taking full control of our main news website and launching NBCNews.com this week, it now is the perfect time to make this move.
Pat’s current responsibilities will be reassigned to other members of our senior executive team as follows: Human Resources will report to Adam Miller, Operations and Technical Services will report to Ted Harbert, and Strategic Planning and Development and Real Estate will report to Stuart Epstein.
We have called NBC News our “crown jewel” in the past and that is how we should think of all of the businesses that will be part of the NBCUniversal News Group. This new structure will play a big role in ensuring our news properties continue to be the best in the industry for years to come.