CBS is combining CBS News and CBS Television Stations, and Hearst veteran Neeraj Khemlani and former ABC Owned Television Stations President Wendy McMahon are the presidents and co-heads of the new division.
The unified division holds CBS News, CBSN and 28 TV stations. “It will maximize the power of CBS’ newsgathering and production operations to serve audiences across all national, digital, local and global platforms,” said CBS.
McMahon and Khemlani move into their roles early next month. Both have worked at CBS, Khemlani as a producer on 60 Minutes and 60 Minutes II, while McMahon worked at WBZ Boston and WCCO Minneapolis.
Susan Zirinsky will continue as president of CBS News until the new leadership has started. CBS is in discussions with Zirinsky for what it calls “a significant role at a new CBS News Content Studio” to be launched later this year.
“This is an opportunity to create a news and information structure that positions CBS for the future,” said George Cheeks, president and CEO of CBS Entertainment Group. “It speaks to our ability to scale newsgathering, production, technical and operational resources to serve both national and local, linear and digital, with the agility to deliver trusted information to every platform. Wendy and Neeraj have the leadership background and cross-platform accomplishments that cover all these important areas, and they share our commitment for supporting superior journalism, optimal delivery platforms and the strongest of organizational cultures.”
McMahon and Khemlani will report to Cheeks.
McMahon was named president of ABC Owned Stations in 2017. “I’m excited to return home to CBS and work with George and Neeraj to build out a unique and inspired structure that brings together the best in journalism, digital innovation and collaboration, to serve audiences at a time when trusted news and information – the hallmark of CBS – has never been more needed,” said McMahon. “Driven by the ingenuity, experience and dedication of the storytellers and teams at CBS News and our local stations, we are committed to reflecting the communities where we operate while cultivating a culture grounded in trust.”
Khemlani was most recently executive VP and deputy group head at Hearst Newspapers. “My time at 60 Minutes and the values of CBS News were formative parts of my career, so the opportunity to return and partner with George and Wendy to lead this storied CBS brand is a privilege of the highest order,” said Khemlani. “I’m excited for us to embrace this transformative moment in journalism, culture and technology with a structure and product set that will amplify the importance of the original reporting and storytelling at CBS News and our local stations on all platforms, including the premiere global streaming news network. And I also want to acknowledge the journalistic force that is Susan Zirinsky for positioning the brand for great days ahead.”
Cheeks saluted Zirinsky, who took on the president role two years ago. “Z has an incredible legacy of making CBS News stronger in every role she served over almost five decades, including meaningful accomplishments as its president,” he said. “Z took the reins in March 2019 at a moment of turmoil in the division, creating stability and renewing passion for the brand internally and externally. She elevated the powerful journalism and competitiveness of our flagship broadcasts, led the important coverage of the pandemic and historic election in 2020, established our Race & Culture Unit and most recently created brand extensions for 60 Minutes, 48 Hours and CBS Sunday Morning with Paramount Plus.”
Kimberly Godwin, who was executive VP of news at CBS News, took on the ABC News president post this week.
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Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.