Official: Andy Lack Named NBC News Chairman

NBC News confirmed Friday morning that Andy Lack will return to the division as chairman of NBC News and MSNBC.

B&C reported earlier in the week that Lack, a former NBC News president, had been in talks to replace Patricia Fili-Krushel, who had served as chairman of NBCUniversal news group since 2012. She will move to a new role within the company, while NBC News president Deborah Turness will remain in her current position. Lack, who will begin in April, will join the executive committee and report to NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke. Turness and MSNBC president Phil Griffin will report to Lack, while CNBC president Mark Hoffman will work alongside Lack “to ensure that where appropriate CNBC will leverage the strength of the News Group portfolio.” Hoffman will remain on the executive board.

Lack, who led NBC News from 1993-2001, spent six years at Bloomberg Media Group before leaving in September to become CEO of the Broadcasting Board of Governors. He stepped down from the BBG earlier this week.

“Andy is an accomplished journalist who began his award-winning news career in 1976 at CBS and rose through the newsroom ranks until he joined NBC News as president in 1993,” said Burke in an internal memo.

When Comcast first acquired NBCUniversal, CEO Brian Roberts described NBC News as the “crown jewel.” It was under Lack that NBC News rose to the top, as NBC Nightly News, Today and Meet the Press were all number one in the ratings. The NBC News that currently exists could not be more different than when Lack left. 

The news division is still working to repair its image in the wake of the Brian Williams scandal, which currently has the longtime Nightly News anchor on a six-month suspension without pay. Though he is scheduled to return sometime in August, it’s not a given he will be back with NBC News. Lack played an instrumental role in Williams succeeding Tom Brokaw at Nightly News.

Ratings have maintained under interim anchor Lester Holt, who has won all three weeks among total viewers behind the desk and two of the three in the adults 25-54 news demo.

While the Brian Williams scandal has been front and center, Lack faces challenges across all of NBC News.

Morning show Today has been mired in second place behind ABC’s Good Morning America since 2012. After a tumultuous 2014 that saw the ugly – and very public – ouster of host David Gregory, Meet the Press has tried to regain its footing as the top Sunday morning current affairs program with new host Chuck Todd. Meet the Press has yet to consistently top CBS’ Face the Nation, though the March 1 program drew 3.4 million viewers, the show’s best audience in over a year.

MSNBC meanwhile, has fallen hard behind Fox News Channel and CNN in the ratings. Last month Griffin began the first of what is expected to be many changes at the cabler, reshuffling the network’s daytime lineup, which included canceling Ronan Farrow’s Ronan Farrow Daily.

Burke’s full memo is below:

I want to let you know about some changes we are making within the NBCUniversal News Group. Andy Lack is returning to the company as Chairman, NBC News and MSNBC. Andy will join our Executive Committee and report directly to me. He will begin in April.

Pat Fili-Krushel, who has been one of my most trusted advisors since she joined NBCUniversal four years ago, will move into a new corporate role on my executive team.

Andy is an accomplished journalist who began his award-winning news career in 1976 at CBS and rose through the newsroom ranks until he joined NBC News as President in 1993. While at NBC, he presided over the News division’s unprecedented rise to number one, led by Today, Nightly News, Dateline and Meet the Press. In 2001 Andy was promoted to President and COO of NBC, where he was responsible for news, entertainment, TV stations, MSNBC and CNBC. Andy’s executive leadership also includes six years as CEO and Chairman of the Bloomberg Media Group, before leaving in September of 2014 to assume his most recent position as CEO of the Broadcasting Board of Governors. Prior to that, he was CEO and Chairman of Sony Music Entertainment.

Andy’s experience and familiarity with our company and specifically the news division will be critical to our growth and future success. Deborah Turness, President of NBC News and Phil Griffin, President of MSNBC will both report to Andy. Mark Hoffman, President of CNBC, and Andy will work closely to ensure that where appropriate CNBC will leverage the strength of the News Group portfolio. Mark will continue on the Executive Committee and report to me. All of Pat’s other direct reports will report to Andy.

When we created the News Group in 2011, I asked Pat to run it in order to maximize the combined strength of our portfolio as audiences fundamentally change the way they consume news. In that time Pat has helped position the organization for future growth by integrating television and digital, creating innovative partnerships, and modernizing the tools and technology we use to gather and deliver news. As she approaches three years in the role, I have asked Pat to return to my team and work directly with me again as she did before she took on her news responsibilities. I am grateful to Pat for her work and accomplishments at the NBCUniversal News Group and for helping to identify Andy as her successor. I look forward to having her back on the 51st floor.

Please join me in welcoming Andy back to our company and in thanking Pat.