Capus Named President of NBC News

Nov 30, 2005  •  Post A Comment

Steve Capus, the acting NBC News president since Neal Shapiro took his leave as chief of the division in September, has earned the permanent title of president of the No. 1 network news operation. He will continue to report to NBC Universal Television Group President Jeff Zucker and will oversee NBC News, MSNBC and the NBC News Channel.

The announcement Tuesday came as no surprise to anyone who has followed Mr. Capus’ career path, which included being executive producer for Brian Williams for four of the years in which Mr. Williams bided his time as anchor of “The News With Brian Williams” at MSNBC and honed his skills as Tom Brokaw’s designated successor. In 2001 Mr. Capus was named executive producer of “Nightly News,” a move that made him a key player in the successful transition from Mr. Brokaw to Mr. Williams as flagship anchor a year ago.

In addition, Mr. Capus has gotten to know key moving parts of NBC News from the inside and up close since he joined the division in 1993 as senior producer of the overnight “NBC Nightside,” then worked as broadcast producer of “NBC News Sunrise” and supervising producer of “Today.”

“I know people in every corner of this company,” Mr. Capus said Tuesday. He had told Mr. Zucker, who at one point had headhunters seeking candidates for a possible expansion of the NBC News presidency that would include CNBC, that he would not campaign for the top job in the division. “You obviously know I can do the job,” Mr. Capus said.

Asked whether the retention of Katie Couric — the $14 million-a-year “Today” co-host who has been not so coyly batting her eyes at CBS News, among others who might be interested in her after her contract is up in May 2006 — now is officially his first priority, Mr. Capus replied: “There are a lot of issues around here, and we’re operating on every one of those issues from a position of strength and leadership, and that’s a pretty good position to be in.”

Citing the No. 1-ranked “Today” show as just one example of NBC News proving doomsayers wrong in predicting that ABC News would overtake NBC News, he pointed out how many people had bet “We would be ‘Desperate Housewives’-d into second place.”

“Somewhere in Bucks County, Pa., an old grammar teacher is spinning in her grave,” Mr. Capus said.