Ex-Nat’l Geo exec on move

Nelson heads to CNN news skein

Former National Geographic Channel VP and exec news producer Mark Nelson has been tapped to preside over Paula Zahn’s evening news show on CNN.

The exec producer spot at “Paula Zahn Now” has been vacant since the abrupt departure of Jim Miller earlier this spring.

Hire was announced by CNN/U.S. exec VP and general manager Princell Hair, who said Nelson’s experience at National Geo and at ABC News’ “Nightline” make him the perfect fit even though Nelson has never worked in cable news before.

Hair said Nelson has a “distinctive understanding of the level of analysis and insight” needed for such a news program.

Nelson will arrive at CNN on May 24, the first day that “Paula Zahn” will broadcast from its new studio at the Time Warner Center in Gotham.

Since its launch last September, Zahn’s show has generally seen month-to-month growth in total viewership while experiencing a decline in the key news demo of adults 25-54 over the past several months.

Upon arriving at National Geo in 2000, Nelson ran a newly established news unit and launched “National Geographic Today.” His unit also produced docs for the channel.

Previously, Nelson spent more than a decade as the senior broadcast producer for ABC’s “Nightline.” He joined ABC News in 1982.

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