NBC News Group chairman Andrew Lack has named Oppenheim the new president of NBC News. Deborah Turness, who has run NBC News since mid 2013, will become president of NBC News International, a new European-focused operation created as the result of an NBC News investment in Euronews, a European news service headquartered in France. NBC News will take a 25 percent ownership stake in the company.
“We plan to marry the power of the NBC News brand and the talent of our people with a formidable news asset in Europe in order to create an international offering that will strengthen our news organization and change the landscape of international news,” Lack said in a memo to staffers issued Tuesday. “By joining forces with Euronews and their nearly 500 journalists, our audience on the broadcast network, on MSNBC and our digital platforms will benefit from a greatly expanded news gathering capability. And we will reach 277 million new households in thirteen languages across Europe, Africa and the Middle East.”
The Euronews partnership will give NBC News more overseas heft at a time when the unit is trying to transform cable outlet MSNBC into a source of hard-news programming. Lack said NBC News Group would provide editorial resources and strategic guidance to Euronews and collaborate on digital efforts as well. Financial terms of the arrangement were not disclosed.
Under Turness’ aegis, NBC News survived a series of wrenching episodes, including the departure of Brian Williams at “NBC Nightly News” and David Gregory at “Meet the Press.” During her tenure, “Today” rebounded from playing second fiddle to ABC’s “Good Morning America” to recapturing the lead in the demographic most coveted by advertisers, people between 25 and 54. All four of the news division’s flagships — “Today,” “Dateline,” “Meet the Press,” and “NBC Nightly News” — finished 2016 in the lead in both overall viewers and the ad demo.
Oppenheim, who returned to NBC News in early 2015 to supervise the many hours of “Today,” is widely credited with turning the show in a newsier direction, after the program floundered in the ratings by attempting to emulate the breezier feel of its ABC rival. Under Oppenheim, who had been a senior vice president tasked with overseeing four hours of “Today” during the week and more on weekends, the program changed its format, giving more emphasis to co-anchors Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie, while removing some elements like the role of news reader that had previously been inhabited by Natalie Morales.
Oppenheim will face new challenges almost immediately, including the daytime launch of a new hour led by former Fox News Channel primetime anchor Megyn Kelly. He iwill continue to lead “Today,” Lack said in the memo, while working with MSNBC chief Phil Griffin and NBC News Digital head Nick Aschiem.