×

NBCU Has Likely Succession Plan Set at NBC News

NBC News President Noah Oppenheim has been battling Ronan Farrow in recent and disturbing headlines, but the executive remains the most likely candidate to succeed NBC News and MSNBC Chairman Andy Lack, according to people familiar with the matter.

Lack, who has seen NBC News through one of its most tumultuous eras, has a contract that runs through 2020, according to these people. He could negotiate to remain with NBCUniversal for a subsequent period or stay on in some other capacity, but Oppenheim is widely seen as his successor. NBCU CEO Steve Burke first put forward that notion in January when he told Variety that Oppenheim “is going to end up running NBC News after Andy retires.”

NBCUniversal declined to make executives available for comment. The end date of Lack’s current contract was previously reported by The Los Angeles Times.

The two executives’ stints at NBC News (both have worked there in previous tenures) have dovetailed with controversy. They have managed teams through the departure of Billy Bush; an effort to launch two new shows with Megyn Kelly; the firing of Matt Lauer; and, more recently, allegations made by author Ronan Farrow that NBC News tried to stifle his efforts to report on sexual harassment allegations made against Harvey Weinstein. NBC News has pushed back against those assertions and disputed several of Farrow’s key findings. Farrow has said he stands by his reporting.

At the same time, MSNBC and NBC News have turned in solid business performance during their tenure. NBC News flagship shows, “Today,” “NBC Nightly News,” “Dateline” and “Meet the Press,” have led in the 25-to-54 audience demo for four consecutive seasons. And MSNBC has gained new traction by shifting much of its dayside programming to straight-news reporting. The network has seen advertising commitments rise in the industry’s past two “upfront” sales sessions. Lack, who has a history of taking big business swings, has revived Brian Williams’ career after a gaffe he made about his time reporting in Iraq led to his dismissal from “Nightly News.” He has won back some respect as a late-night anchor at MSNBC.

Oppenheim’s rise would continue a longstanding trend in the TV-news business. Executives who can improve the performance of morning programs at the various networks are typically elevated to higher positions. Oppenheim rejoined NBC News in 2015 and helped wring better ratings in the demographic most coveted by advertisers in news programming from the first two hours of NBC’s “Today Show.” Morning programs are responsible for capturing millions of dollars in advertising revenue, and often fuel a network’s entire news division.

The industry is filled with executives who were given broader responsibilities after moving the needle on morning performance. Jeff Zucker, the former NBCU CEO and now chairman of news and sports at AT&T’s WarnerMedia, had some of his first success overseeing “Today.” Chris Licht, who oversees CBS’ “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” helped build new morning-news franchises at “Morning Joe” and “CBS This Morning.” Ben Sherwood, who helped ABC’s “Good Morning America” beat “Today” in a heated ratings race while president of ABC News, became head of Disney’s entertainment operations for a period of time. More recently, Fox News Media named Lauren Petterson, a longtime supervisor of “Fox & Friends,” as the new president of Fox Business Network.

 

 

 

 

 

 

More TV

  • iheart living room concert for america

    Fox's 'IHeart Living Room Concert for America': TV Review

    There’s something refreshing about something being about what it’s actually about. This was the thought that came to mind as the Backstreet Boys — a band still riding on the afterburn of one massive hit — performed a five-way “socially distanced” version of “I Want It That Way” on Fox’s televised benefit to raise awareness [...]

  • Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison in

    'Homeland': Carrie Mathison Says Goodbye to Longtime Ally (SPOILERS)

    “Homeland” reached another milestone in its final season with the passing of a fan-favorite character who has been with the show since its inception. SPOILER ALERT: The following includes spoilers for “Threnody(s),” episode 8 of the eighth and final season of Showtime’s “Homeland.”  Carrie Mathison has said goodbye to a longtime ally in her quest [...]

  • Jane Levy Breaks Down Special 'Zoey's

    Jane Levy on 'Panic' and Jim Carrey as Inspiration for Special 'Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist' Episode

    SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched “Zoey’s Extraordinary Glitch,” the eighth episode of “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist.” “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist” thrust Jane Levy back into the spotlight as a leading lady in a broadcast series, but the eighth episode of that NBC dramedy, entitled “Zoey’s Extraordinary Glitch,” more literally thrust her into [...]

  • ‘Westworld’: 5 Burning Questions From Season

    ‘Westworld’: 5 Burning Questions From Season 3 Episode 3

    SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched the third episode of “Westworld” Season 3. After Maeve (Thandie Newton) and Bernard’s (Jeffrey Wright) windy Westworld and Warworld antics from last time around, Episode 3 returned to the equally dangerous environment of future Los Angeles. The episode began with Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) playing [...]

  • Outlander 507

    The 'Outlander' Death That Brought 'An Unexpected Wave of Emotion' (SPOILERS)

    SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched “The Ballad of Roger Mac,” the seventh episode of “Outlander” Season 5. The latest “Outlander” episode was simply heartbreaking with one confirmed death and one fate left quite literally hanging in the balance. Both book readers and non-book readers alike have been aware for [...]

  • Mergers and Deals Placeholder

    Tegna Confirms Two Acquisition Offers Withdrawn Amid Coronavirus Upheaval

    Tegna confirmed Sunday that two suitors for the station group have recently withdrawn acquisition offers, citing the upheaval in the broader marketplace caused by the coronavirus crisis. Tegna’s statement is the company’s first acknowledgement that it has received four unsolicited acquisition offers in recent weeks. Two of those have since been withdrawn while the other [...]

  • David Schramm

    David Schramm, Star on NBC's 'Wings,' Dies at 73

    David Schramm, a stage actor who was also a star on the NBC comedy “Wings,” has died. He was 73. Schramm was a founding member of New York’s The Acting Company, which announced the news of his death on Sunday. He played Roy Biggins, the rival airline owner on “Wings,” and appeared in all 172 [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content