CBS brought in two seasoned media executives to oversee a sweeping company reorganization that aims to merge its flagship broadcast news division and the 29 local TV stations belonging to the ViacomCBS network.
In a press release Thursday afternoon, CBS announced that Hearst Executive Vice President Neeraj Khemlani and ABC Television President Wendy McMahon would serve as the new news division co-chairs, merging CBS News and CBS Television under one corporate roof.
The move will make Khemlani, a former associate producer on 60 Minutes and before that on 60 Minutes II, the first Asian American to lead the network’s news division, albeit with Murphy as an equal partner, replacing the current one. network leader Susan Zirinsky as a result of this decision. a tumultuous tenure that lasted only two years.
“They will have to build a personal relationship and they will have to trust each other,” former CBS News chairman Andrew Heyward told The Daily Beast of the network’s unusual news co-chair.
The network hopes that Khemlani, who oversaw Hearst’s partnerships with ESPN and A&E, will be able to grow his TV audience while bringing a digital news experience to the network’s online and streaming platforms. McMahon, who previously worked at CBS and was also known for digital innovation on the Disney-owned network, resigned this week as president of ABC Owned Stations, where she oversaw the eight local broadcast stations of the Disney empire as well as its streaming platforms. Previously, she worked at KABC Los Angeles and at CBS-owned WBZ Boston and WCCO Minneapolis stations.
But while TV insiders had chatted about the drama of Zirinsky’s succession for days, Thursday’s most significant announcement could be the major network reorganization, which now gives CBS News officials greater influence. on the national network of CBS stations, and vice versa. Network insiders pointed out to The Daily Beast immediately after the news that the move appeared to be aimed at forcing the national network and local television stations to embrace more common goals – historically not always the case in the business – and to share company resources.
This could potentially give more authority to breaking news coverage across the country, relying on local TV reporters imbued with their communities instead of sending national correspondents from New York, Washington or Los Angeles. to embark on natural disasters and other tense situations.
The hiring and reorganization comes at a tumultuous time for the broadcast network.
Ratings for its flagship programs including CBS this morning and CBS Evening News faltered, as it was forced to lay off staff amid last year’s advertising slowdown triggered by the spread of the coronavirus. His most popular program, 60 minutes, has also come under criticism in recent days for a flawed segment on the coronavirus vaccine rollout in Florida.
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