Content

Shapiro Out at NBC News

9/06/2005 7:37 AM Eastern

Beleaguered Neal Shapiro is exiting as president of NBC News, where his duties included overseeing MSNBC.

In an internal memo to staff Tuesday, Shapiro referred to the months of speculation about his tenure at NBC News. There have been press reports for some time that Jeff Zucker, president of NBC Universal Television Group, was looking to oust Shapiro.

“I’ll be here until Sept. 9, and it seems fitting to be spending my final days at work on one of the biggest stories of the year,” Shapiro wrote in his memo.

He added that since last spring, he wondered if he would find his next few years at NBC “as personally fulfilling as the first four” he has spent as president of NBC News. “I also found myself missing the opportunity for the kind of creativity I’ve had in previous jobs,” he wrote.

Top-rated The Today Show, which falls under Shapiro’s purview, has seen its ratings leadership challenged by ABC. Today’s producer exited earlier this year.

And MSNBC has struggled to find an identity and muster ratings strength. This summer, MSNBC posted a minuscule 0.3 rating in primetime, down 25% from a 0.4 a year ago, according to a Disney ABC Cable Networks analysis of Nielsen Media Research data. In total-day ratings this summer, MSNBC also saw a big decline, down 33% to a 0.2 from a 0.3, according to Nielsen.

Shapiro’s successes included the change of anchors eight months ago at NBC Nightly News,when Brian Williams took over the helm from veteran Tom Brokaw.

Zucker Tuesday named Steve Capus, senior vice president of NBC News, as acting president of the unit. And in a memo to staff, Zucker added that he is “undertaking a wide-ranging search for Neal’s successor.”

Shapiro’s plans seemed open. “As for me, I don’t know what’s next, whether it’s at NBC Universal or elsewhere,” he wrote in his memo.

September