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NBC News President Capus to leave network

Date February 01, 2013

(Reuters) - NBC News President Steve Capus will be leaving the network in the coming weeks after struggles at the unit including lower ratings for its flagship morning show "Today."

Capus had been the president of NBC News since 2005. No replacement has been named, according to a company memo obtained by Reuters. In a statement, Capus said it was "now time to head in a new direction."

His departure had been rumored for some time. Comcast reorganized the news division in July, bringing in Patricia Fili-Krushel to head the news unit's business operations. Fili-Kurshel said in a memo to staff on Friday that she has created an interim structure at the news unit with various executives reporting to her. She will start the search for a successor in coming weeks, Capus said, adding that he would help with the transition.

Capus called it "an extremely difficult decision to walk away" and did not say what his next move would be. Jeff Zucker, the executive who promoted him seven years ago at NBC, is now the worldwide president of CNN, owned by Time Warner Inc.

NBC News has seen some stumbles in the past year under Capus. The unit has been trying to revive the "Today" show, which has been in a back-and-forth ratings war with ABC's "Good Morning America" ever since ABC snapped NBC's 16-year unbeaten streak last year.

NBC News also came under fire last spring when it decided to edit a call to police from George Zimmerman, the Florida man who shot Trayvon Martin. The editing made it appear that Zimmerman told police that Martin was black without being prompted, when, in fact, the full tape reveals that the neighborhood watch captain only did so when responding to a question posed by a dispatcher.

NBC has since been sued by Zimmerman in a defamation lawsuit.

Comcast has been the majority owner of NBC since 2011. Shares rose 1 percent by 38 cents on Friday to $38.46.

(Reporting by Liana B. Baker; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Andrew Hay)

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