One Year In, Here’s How Cesar Conde Is Making His Mark on the NBCUniversal News Group

By A.J. Katz 

Rachel Maddow, Shep Smith and Joy Reid are among the NBC Newsers who are going to be asked to put content on Peacock.

That’s just one of many tidbits that one learns in an in-depth Wall Street Journal profile on Cesar Conde and the state of the NBCUniversal News Group, published today.

The story also breaks news that Tom Llamas is officially rejoining the network on Monday after seven years at ABC.

The Journal’s Ben Mullin notes that Conde is putting a massive bet on streaming and has emphasized fiscal discipline, centralizing oversight of the news networks and cutting executive positions that each channel has had up to now, people familiar with the personnel changes said. He has taken business responsibilities away from some top personnel, such as CNBC Chairman Mark Hoffman, the people said.

Prior to Conde taking on the oversight role, Hoffman had reported directly to NBCUniversal chief Steve Burke, and not to then-NBC News chairman Andy Lack, a unique situation in television news. However, Hoffman no longer reports directly to the NBCU chief, now Jeff Shell. He reports to Conde, the NBC News Group chief, although he has kept the title of Chairman.

Separately, in a recent call with NBC News, MSNBC and CNBC leaders, Conde reportedly signaled he believes there are several storylines to keep drawing in audiences, citing debates between progressive politicians and more centrist Democrats; fissures in the Republican party; the continuing reckoning over racial justice in the U.S.; climate change; and Covid-19’s trajectory.

The former Telemundo chairman, who officially stepped into the role of NBCU News Group chairman on May 4, reportedly takes a different approach to editorial matters. He listens in on morning news calls, but rarely speaks, often following up directly with network presidents after the call if there’s something he has in mind.

He has also been slowly cultivating relationships with on-air talent, including Joe Scarborough, over meals to exchange views on the direction of MSNBC. Scarborough famously formed a close bond with his former boss, MSNBC president Phil Griffin, over the years.

Then, there’s the 50% Challenge, which the company announced last July. It’s a push for half of the division’s employees to be people of color, and half of them to be women. According to the network, people of color now represent 46% of its new hires since the challenge was announced and women representing about 67% of new hires.