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Friday, September 24, 2021

ViacomCBS To Merge CBS News, TV Station Divisions

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ViacomCBS today announced that veteran media executives Neeraj Khemlani and Wendy McMahon would become presidents and co-heads of the newly merged operations of CBS News and CBS Television Stations. They will replace CBS News President Susan Zirinsky, who will assist with the transition expected next month.

In addition to overseeing the network’s broadcast news operations, Khemlani and McMahon will be responsible for managing the 24/7 streaming news service CBSN, 10 CBSN local platforms, CBSNews.com, and 28 CBS-owned local television stations in 17 U.S. markets.  Khemlani is a former Hearst executive,  and McMahon was the President of Walt Disney’s ABC Television Group. They will both report to George Cheeks, the President and Chief Executive Officer of the CBS Entertainment Group.

“This is an opportunity to create a news and information structure that positions CBS for the future,” Cheeks said in a press release. “It speaks to our ability to scale newsgathering, production, technical and operational resources to serve both national and local, linear and digital, with the agility to deliver trusted information to every platform.”

The appointments are a homecoming for Khemlani and McMahon.  Khemlani spent eight years as a producer for 60 Minutes, while McMahon worked for seven years at CBS affiliates in Boston and Minneapolis.

The network faced multiple sexual harassment scandals when Zirinsky became president in 2019.

Under her leadership, CBS revamped its struggling morning and evening news programs to mixed results. Zirinsky also renegotiated CBS This Morning Anchor Gayle King’s contract. According to the New York Post, she moved King’s co-star Norah O’Donnell to anchor the CBS Evening News amidst reports that the journalists didn’t get along.

According to the company, Zirinsky, who was the basis for Holly Hunter’s character in Broadcast News, will take a “significant role” at CBS News Content Studio, a unit expected to be launched later this year. She reportedly was so miserable at CBS News President that she held up a sign saying “I hate my job” in the middle of a meeting.

There is no shortage of backstage drama at CBS.

CBS Television Stations Executives Peter Dunn and David Friend left the company earlier this month were leaving the company amid an investigation into allegations uncovered by The Los Angeles Times that they created a hostile work environment. The men have denied wrongdoing.

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