Andy Lack named chairman of NBC News and MSNBC

Andy Lack, the former NBC executive who was rumored to be considering a return to the network, has been named chairman of NBC News and MSNBC, NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke announced in a memo to staff Friday.

Lack, who was until this week CEO and director of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, will begin his tenure as chairman in April, according to the memo.

Lack's appointment comes during a stormy period for NBC News. In recent weeks, the network has endured the suspension of its star anchor, Brian Williams, after he made inaccurate statements about his own reporting. The resulting scandal led some current and former NBC News executives to question the leadership of NBCUniversal News Group Chairman Pat Fili-Krushel and NBC News President Deborah Turness, according to a Business Insider story published Thursday.

With Lack's appointment, Fili-Krushel will step down from her role as chairman, and "move into a new corporate role" on NBCUniversal's team, according to the memo. Turness and MSNBC president Phil Griffin will both report to Lack.

In the days leading up to Lack's appointment, writers at several news organizations speculated that his return to NBC could mean the reinstatement of Brian Williams as anchor of "NBC Nightly News." Lack, a "close friend and adviser to Williams," might orchestrate a comeback for the embattled anchor, Dylan Byers reported for Politico Tuesday.

At least one writer, New York Daily News TV editor Don Kaplan, offered a dissenting view, saying Lack's forthcoming appointment did not signal Williams' reappointment. Because the final decision to reinstate Williams lies with Burke, Lack's new role at the network doesn't necessarily mean a return to the anchor chair for the ex-"Nightly News" host, he wrote.

Since the announcement of Lack's appointment Friday, at least two news outlets have reported that the new chairman has already had a preliminary discussion with former "Today" co-host Katie Couric about a possible return to the network.

Previously, Lack was chief operating officer and president of NBCUniversal Inc., according to his Bloomberg executive biography. He was also CEO of Bloomberg Media Group, CEO of Sony BMG Music Entertainment and senior executive producer of CBS Reports.

Here's the memo:

I want to let you know about some changes we are making within the NBCUniversal News Group. Andy Lack is returning to the company as Chairman, NBC News and MSNBC. Andy will join our Executive Committee and report directly to me. He will begin in April.

Pat Fili-Krushel, who has been one of my most trusted advisors since she joined NBCUniversal four years ago, will move into a new corporate role on my executive team.

Andy is an accomplished journalist who began his award-winning news career in 1976 at CBS and rose through the newsroom ranks until he joined NBC News as President in 1993. While at NBC, he presided over the News division’s unprecedented rise to number one, led by “Today,” “Nightly News,” “Dateline” and “Meet the Press.” In 2001 Andy was promoted to President and COO of NBC, where he was responsible for news, entertainment, TV stations, MSNBC and CNBC. Andy’s executive leadership also includes six years as CEO and Chairman of the Bloomberg Media Group, before leaving in September of 2014 to assume his most recent position as CEO of the Broadcasting Board of Governors. Prior to that, he was CEO and Chairman of Sony Music Entertainment.

Andy’s experience and familiarity with our company and specifically the news division will be critical to our growth and future success. Deborah Turness, President of NBC News and Phil Griffin, President of MSNBC will both report to Andy. Mark Hoffman, President of CNBC, and Andy will work closely to ensure that where appropriate CNBC will leverage the strength of the News Group portfolio. Mark will continue on the Executive Committee and report to me. All of Pat’s other direct reports will report to Andy.

When we created the News Group in 2011, I asked Pat to run it in order to maximize the combined strength of our portfolio as audiences fundamentally change the way they consume news. In that time Pat has helped position the organization for future growth by integrating television and digital, creating innovative partnerships, and modernizing the tools and technology we use to gather and deliver news. As she approaches three years in the role, I have asked Pat to return to my team and work directly with me again as she did before she took on her news responsibilities. I am grateful to Pat for her work and accomplishments at the NBCUniversal News Group and for helping to identify Andy as her successor. I look forward to having her back on the 51st floor.

Please join me in welcoming Andy back to our company and in thanking Pat.

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    Benjamin Mullin

    Benjamin Mullin is the managing editor of He previously reported for Poynter as a staff writer, Google Journalism Fellow and Naughton Fellow, covering journalism innovation, business practices and ethics.


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