Capus Dicusses NBC News’ Success Amid Network’s Primetime Woes

By kevin 

HuffPost’s Danny Shea takes a look at the strong run NBC News had throughout 2009 — “Nightly News,” “Today,” and, for the most part, “Meet the Press” all topped their competition — and talks with NBC News president Steve Capus, who provided some insight into the mentality of executives at the network right now:

“Roger Ailes’ sense of healthy paranoia manifests itself here,” he said. “Staying number one enables everything that we do.”

To stay number one, Capus — who says all of his network’s major talent are locked up in long-term deals — will rely on his network’s star power, which he calls “a Mount Rushmore of television news” as well as its deep bench of younger talent. He says his boss, embattled NBC Universal President and CEO Jeff Zucker, is very supportive in this regard.

“He is not a casual observer of what goes on here,” Capus said of Zucker, who got his start in NBC’s News division. “We talk all the time, and he is the first to say, ‘Let’s rip up this talent contract and renew it.’ He is absolutely our biggest advocate.”

While layoffs are coming at one of NBC’s competitors this week, Capus said, “I don’t see the need for massive cuts.” He also told Shea that the NBC News is hoping to help local affiliates boost their newscasts. Zucker and the network recently faced significant pressure from the affiliates over the performance of Jay Leno’s primetime program.