Courtesy of Hearst Corp.
Soon to be CBS News headlines led by a new executive.
Neeraj Khemlani, who joined the Paramount Global unit in 2021 to oversee CBS News and local stations alongside Wendy McMahon, is leaving his role running the unit that produces “60 Minutes,” “CBS Evening News,” and “CBS Evening News.” Facing the Nation”, among other programmes. Khemani told CBS News staff on Sunday that he has decided to exit and will instead pursue a new multi-year deal with CBS that sees him develop content including books for Simon & Schuster, documentaries and scripted series.
Many top executives and reporters sign contracts for three years or more. During his more than two-year tenure, Khimlani helped reformulate morning shows for CBS News. eliminating divisions between the line news staff and the CBS news broadcasts; strengthening its investigative unit; and the introduction of new talent in the famous isolated section, including Robert Costa, Natalie Morales and Cecilia Vega. Under his auspices, the staff at CBS News has been preparing for the 2024 presidential election cycle, and in April unveiled a new podcast featuring a roundtable of Washington correspondents discussing the latest political news.
“We’ve maintained the #1 spot in our featured programming for the weekend, successfully developed and launched action plans to increase digital revenue that will support CBS News for the next generation, and elevated the great number of people who work here day in and day out to deliver I’m proud,” Khemani said in a note. So proud of what you all have accomplished—the scores of winning journalists, the great storytelling, and the creativity that underpin every aspect of our programs—that put this department on a stronger path forward.” He said he was “looking forward to getting my reporter notebook back in my pocket and off on a new adventure.” .”
Khemani came to CBS after a stint as a senior executive at Hearst, and earlier in his career was also a producer on 60 Minutes. He wasted no time investigating the finances of CBS News programs, according to employees familiar with the matter, and during his tenure he was subjected to reports that spoke rudely to producers and executives.
The change is the second in CBS News’ leadership structure since 2021 under the auspices of parent company Paramount Global, which was formed in 2019 from the merger of companies formerly known as Viacom Inc. and CBS Corp. Veteran chief producer Susan Zirinsky assumed the reins of the unit in 2019, an effort by CBS executives to end a chaotic period that saw the departures of anchor Charlie Rose and CEO Jeff Fager amid allegations about their behavior. Both men denied the allegations made against them.
“Khimlani has created new business plans to generate more revenue, which is essential in a challenging environment for all media companies,” CBS CEO George Cheeks said in a note. He said he and Khelmani had been discussing his “possible relocation for some time.”
McMahon, a veteran of both CBS and ABC who has spent more time focusing on CBS’s local station work, is widely seen as a prime candidate to take over for Kemlani at CBS News, according to three people familiar with the matter. Paramount Global and CBS can name a replacement as soon as Monday afternoon.
Khamlani’s departure marks the latest in a string of senior television news executives, and is a sign of just how difficult the operating environment is becoming for the elements of television programming as more viewers shift from linear consumption to video-on-demand streaming. Chris Licht, the former CBS News executive who became CEO of CNN, was ousted in June after a tumultuous tenure. Noah Oppenheim, who enjoyed a six-year tenure as president of NBC News, left the company in January following a reorganization of NBCUniversal’s news operations.
Although associated with the early ages of the television industry, news is seen as key in a new era. Media companies have placed a new focus on their news divisions to attract the large, live audiences that advertisers and distributors crave as more consumers migrate to live broadcasts. ABC and NBC have both in recent years filled some of their daytime schedules with news programming, rather than soap operas or syndicated fare. However, journalism buffs have a new set of competitors vying for their attention. More people are getting their news from streaming video sources. A 2022 Pew Research Center poll found that about 53% of Americans prefer getting their news via a digital device, compared to 33% for television and only 5% for print.
But his maneuvers bolstered CBS News, which has long had a reputation for not always welcoming strangers.
Sure enough, two of its core programs, “CBS Evening News” and the weekday version of “CBS Mornings,” are still in third place behind competitors ABC and NBC. Yet they have gained a new traction. Khemlani recast the trio at the helm of “CBS Mornings,” pairing Gayle King with former football player Nate Burleson and reporter Tony Dokoupil, and connecting the show with CBS News’ weekend programming, which includes the esteemed “Sunday Morning.” During the week of July 31, the weekday morning broadcast, which had long held third place, had less than 400,000 viewers behind NBC’s “Today.” CBS News has also narrowed the gap between Norah O’Donnell’s “CBS Evening News” and its competitor “NBC Nightly News” and ABC’s “World News Tonight” among viewers ages 25-54, the demographic favored by advertisers. . in news programmes.
Khalifa Khamlani will no doubt focus on preparing to cover the run-up to the 2024 elections. Each new White House cycle is seen as a potential boon for TV news, as debates, primaries, conventions, and election coverage tend to attract a wider audience. Paramount Global also pressured CBS News and its local stations to create a broader news product that blended national coverage with regional journalism, as part of an effort to compete for digital audiences. If that sounds like a tall order for CBS News anchors like Gayle King and Nora O’Donnell, imagine what it might be like for the CEO they report to.
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