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
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."