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NBC names news division chief to replace Shapiro

Interim President Steve Capus is promoted. CBS hires Rome Hartman to produce evening news.

November 30, 2005|Matea Gold | Times Staff Writer

NEW YORK — On Tuesday, NBC made it official: Steve Capus, who has served as acting president of the network's news division since September, was formally named to the post.

The announcement marks the quick ascension of Capus, who served as executive producer of "NBC Nightly News" from May 2001 until June of this year, when he was promoted to senior vice president of the news division. Three months later, when News President Neal Shapiro left the network, Capus was appointed to run the division on an interim basis.

At the time, NBC Universal Television Group President Jeff Zucker said he was undertaking a "wide-ranging search" for Shapiro's successor. On Tuesday, Zucker said he was quickly persuaded to make Capus permanent after watching him in the job.

"He's just exhibited terrific leadership," said Zucker, who singled out Capus' handling of the coverage of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath as especially impressive.

"He's a very thoughtful, very serious journalist who is incredibly competitive and loves to win," Zucker added. "Those are all qualities I admire."

As president of the network news division that boasts the highest-ranked morning, evening and Sunday morning broadcasts, Capus' immediate challenge will be to broaden NBC's presence onto other platforms, Zucker said.

"I think his real big priority over the next two years has got to be to evolve that division as new means of gathering news and disseminating news becomes apparent," he said.

Capus, who said he was thrilled to be permanently named to the post, said that "people want news where they want it, when they want it."

"That is going to be the biggest push," he added.

Meanwhile, CBS News President Sean McManus on Tuesday named a new executive producer to run the network's third-place evening broadcast. Rome Hartman, who spent the last 14 years producing stories for "60 Minutes," will take over "CBS Evening News" on Jan. 9.

Former executive producer Jim Murphy, who led the broadcast for the last six years, was asked to take on "a new challenge," McManus said in a statement.

While CBS' evening broadcast has long lagged behind its two competitors, it has posted gains this season, while ABC and NBC are down in viewership from last year.

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