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NBC News looks to Britain for its new president

Date May 20, 2013

By Liana B. Baker

(Reuters) - Deborah Turness, a former top news editor in Britain, will take over as NBC News' president in August, replacing Steve Capus who left the network in February after eight years.

She will report to Pat Fili-Krushel, chairman of NBCUniversal News Group, an executive who oversees the news unit's business operations. NBC is owned by Comcast Corp.

Turness, 46, was previously the editor of ITV News, the news division of Britain's biggest commercial free-to-air broadcaster.

NBC is not the first U.S. news organization to look to the UK for its next leader. The New York Times Co appointed Mark Thompson, a director-general of the BBC, to be chief executive last year.

NBC said in a statement that Turness will be responsible for all of NBC News, including breaking news coverage at its bureaus as well as shows including "NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams," the "Today" show, "Meet the Press" and "Dateline."

Turness will join NBC News at a time where it has been showing some slippage compared to its cable news units.

CNBC is still far and away the leading business news network. MSNBC has surpassed CNN to become a strong No. 2 among general cable news networks, while closing the gap with longtime ratings leader Fox News, owned by News Corp.

On the broadcast side, the network's national news program "NBC Nightly News" is averaging 8.169 million total viewers, ahead of "ABC World News" and "CBS Evening News."

But the "Today" show, a morning show and one of the most profitable shows on the network, has been losing viewers to ABC's "Good Morning America," which snapped NBC's 16-year unbeaten ratings streak last year.

(Reporting by Liana B. Baker, editing by G Crosse)

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