NBC News prexy Steve Capus to depart

Exec's exit comes after restructuring of NBCUniversal news assets

NBC News prexy Steve Capus is stepping down after eight years in the post.

In a memo sent to staffers on Friday, Capus said: “It has been a privilege to have spent two decades here, but it is now time to head in a new direction…I have informed (NBCUniversal News Group chairman) Pat Fili-Krushel that I will be leaving NBC News in the coming weeks.”

No successor has been named. NBC said they would mount a search for Capus’ replacement.

“Steve has been a friend, boss and mentor to a great many people at NBC News for a long time and we will all miss him very much,” Fili-Krushel said in her own memo to staffers.

Capus joined NBC News in 1993 as an exec producer. He was named prexy of the news division in 2005.

Last summer, Comcast aggregated its news arms in a newly-forged division, NBCUniversal News Group. NBC News, CNBC, MSNBC and The Weather Channel now sit under the umbrella, with Pat Fili-Krushel leading the Group. Formation of the Group meant Capus would report to Fili-Krushel, instead of directly to NBCU topper Steve Burke. It’s understood that Capus was among the execs who had been a contender for the top job at CNN, which ultimately went to Capus’ former boss, ex-NBCU chief Jeff Zucker.

NBC News has faced scrutiny on the ayem front with last year’s departure of Ann Curry from “Today,” and “Today’s” dip in ratings compared to competitor morning news show “Good Morning America” on ABC.

Capus’ departure spurred immediate speculation that he would reunite with Zucker in a CNN post. Capus in his memo indicated that he intended to stay in the news biz: “Journalism is, indeed, a noble calling, and I have much to accomplish in the next phase of my career,” he wrote.

Zucker has begun a hiring and restructuring process now that he heads CNN, acquiring talent from, notably, ESPN and ABC News so far. Capus’ extensive experience in the ayem news realm would complement Zucker’s push for CNN to launch its own morning news program that would compete with broadcast nets in the same time period.

Al Jazeera America, the domestic startup, might also be a possible home for Capus. Since Al Jazeera rocked the news biz by acquiring cabler Current TV, the Qatar-based news org has been on an aggressive search for news talent, posting ads for dozens of open positions. So far, Al Jazeera America has not publicly named a leader for the network that will replace Current as early as May.