NBC Affiliates Salute Departing Capus for Strong Network News Product
Despite recent 'Today' woes, kind words and best wishes for outgoing news chief
By Michael Malone -- Broadcasting & Cable, 2/1/2013 4:32:43 PMSteve Capus Exiting NBC News
The NBC affiliates were disappointed, for the most part, to see Steve Capus, the NBC News president since 2005, announce he was moving on. But they also expressed serious confidence that NBCUniversal leadership would make the right moves to keep the network news division humming.
"As an NBC affiliate, I'm thrilled with the product NBC has given us all these years," says Ken Freedman, KWQC Davenport (Iowa). "I've been a big fan of NBC News product for years, and I'm sad to see him go."
Despite losing its longtime advantage to ABC's Good Morning America at the national level, Today has held up "remarkably well" in his "Quad Cities" market, says Freedman, while Nightly News and Meet the Press remain powerhouses.
Jordan Wertlieb, NBC affiliates board chairman, saluted Capus for his big-time journalism chops. "Steve's tenure as NBC News president is a testament to his commitment to quality journalism," Wertlieb, president at Hearst Television, said in a statement. "His leadership in the successful transition of Nightly News, the creation of such important initiatives as Education Nation and of course the Today show's record-breaking winning streak are a testament to that commitment. The affiliate board looks forward to working with Pat [Fili-Krushel, head of NBCU News Group] and her team in this transition."
Capus has led NBC News since 2005 and signs off in the coming weeks. "It is now time to head in a new direction," he said, but did not specify his next move.
Dave Lougee, broadcast president at Gannett, says Capus treated the network-affiliate relationship as a partnership. "He's been a real good friend to the affiliates," says Lougee. "He was very good about reaching out for our input and collaborating with the affiliates. It's something we appreciated about Steve."
The affiliates are, of course, curious to see who succeeds him in the pivotal post. "The great news about NBC is it's got wonderful bench strength," says Tim Morrissey, president and general manager at WCNC Charlotte. "They've got the deepest bench in the business. I don't think they'll miss a beat."
While there has been some internal grumbling among affiliates of late about some of Today's content going soft, many from the local stations are quick to note that the touchstone program's recent ratings slump is but one element-albeit a significant one -- of a broad news division that many feel is best in class. "I'd rather be an NBC affiliate right now than any network affiliate," says Freedman, mentioning NBC's rebounding primetime.
They also note that network news chief is one of the more difficult jobs in television, and fresh perspective atop the division might be good for the network-and the affiliates. "Steve deserves a lot of credit for the things he was able to accomplish," says Mark Gentner, vice president and general manager of WITN Greenville (N.C.). "But I think change is good -- a new look at different ways to do things."
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