Taking steps to dissolve the company's various news fiefdoms, NBCUniversal Chief Executive Steve Burke on Thursday created a new centralized business unit that includes NBC News, MSNBC and CNBC.
NBCUniversal administration executive Patricia Fili-Krushel, who has not had direct involvement in a network news operation for more than 12 years, has been installed as chairman of NBCUniversal News Group.
Burke said the move would create "a structure that should help foster even more cooperation."
The consolidation also resolves lingering questions about which of the company's three powerful news chieftans, NBC News President Steve Capus, CNBC President Mark Hoffman or MSNBC President Phil Griffin, might nudge one another out to become the top newsman. Both Capus and Griffin were tight allies of former NBCUniversal chief Jeff Zucker and given wide latitude under his reign.
But in the end, Burke decided that none of the three would get the top job.
The move also could be viewed as a demotion for Capus, who has been struggling to reverse alarming ratings declines at the network's premier news program "Today." The show is now fighting for first place with ABC's"Good Morning America."
Burke worked with Fili-Krushel when they both were executives at Walt Disney Co.'s ABC in the late 1990s.
Fili-Krushel, in 1998 to 2000, was responsible for the ABC Television Network, which included ABC News. During her tenure, the ABC news division launched the successful daytime talk show, "The View."
Burke tapped Fili-Krushel to be responsible for administrative functions at NBCUniversal beginning in January 2011, when Comcast took a 51% stake in the media company. Prior to joining NBCUniversal, Fili-Krushel had been executive vice president of administration at Time Warner Inc.
"Pat is a great fit for this role. She has a wealth of experience in cable and broadcast television," Burke wrote in an email to employees Thursday. "Since joining NBCUniversal at the close of the deal, she has been a valuable member of my senior team and she has my complete confidence. ... I am confident that placing all of these [news] assets into one group will accelerate their growth, individually and collectively."
NBCUniversal's interest in the Weather Channel will be included in the new group.
As part of the shuffle, some of Fili-Krushel's former duties will fall to other senior executives. Adam Miller who is in charge of corporate communications also will head human resources. NBC Broadcasting Chairman Ted Harbert will assume responsibility for operations and technical services.