It’s Official: Deborah Turness Named President of NBC News

U.K. news sets sail for New York on August 5

A little more than a week after word began circulating that ITV News editor Deborah Turness was on the verge of being named president of NBC News, Pat Fili-Krushel made it official.

The NBC News chair announced this morning that Turness will take the reins in August.

Deborah Turness

"Deborah has built an outstanding reputation as both a journalist and business executive with a proven track record for innovation and collaboration,” Fili-Krushel said, by way of announcing Turness’ appointment. “She is a leader with a global perspective, who is also very familiar with NBC News, having worked closely with us through our partnership with ITN. Her passion for the news business, combined with her creativity and vision, will be a tremendous asset to NBC News, and I’m very pleased to welcome her to the team.”

Turness becomes the first woman to run a network news organization in the U.S. She replaces Steve Capus, who stepped down in February. She will report to Fili-Krushel.

In Turness, NBC has landed a leader with considerable hands-on experience. A 25-year ITV veteran, she’s overseen its newscasts as editor for the last decade. ITV boasts the second-largest TV news audience in the U.K., trailing only BBC News.

Turness arrives as NBC News faces ratings pressure on nearly all fronts. Not only has the Today show lost its stranglehold over morning news to ABC’s Good Morning America, but also the Sunday morning public affairs program Meet the Press with David Gregory has lost ground to CBS News’ Face the Nation with Bob Scheiffer.

While GMA last year broke Today’s 16-season winning streak in the core 25-54 demo, the show remains a moneymaker for NBC. Per Kantar Media, Today in 2012 generated $497.3 million in ad sales revenue, up 3 percent from the previous year. In the same period, GMA brought in $318.5 million in ad dollars, up 7 percent from 2011.

NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams remains the top-rated evening news broadcast, extending its winning streak among total viewers to 191 weeks.

Turness announced her decision to leave ITV today at 3 p.m. U.K. time. In a memo to staffers, ITN CEO John Hardie said that while he was sorry to see Turness go, he was “delighted for her to have this opportunity, particularly at an affiliate that we work so closely with.”

The 45-year-old executive will stay on to help recruit her replacement. Turness’ official start date at NBC is Aug. 5.

“It is quite simply the greatest imaginable honor to be named as the next president of NBC News,” Turness said. “I am hugely excited by the opportunities that lie ahead and look forward to working with the talented journalists and technicians who make it one of the great global news operations.”

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