BBC News hires former NBC, ITV exec Deborah Turness as CEO of news and current affairs

By Matt Collins Article may include affiliate links

Former ITV and NBC News executive Deborah Turness has been appointed as CEO of the BBC’s News and Current Affairs division.

“I’m delighted Deborah Turness is joining the BBC as our CEO for BBC News and Current Affairs. Deborah brings a wealth of experience, insight, first-class editorial judgement, and a strong track record of delivery. She is a passionate advocate for the power of impartial journalism and a great believer in the BBC and the role we play, in the UK and globally. She will do a brilliant job of leading our news and current affairs as we deliver on the BBC’s public service mission in the digital age,” said Tim Davie, BBC’s Director-General in a statement.

Turness is British and moved to the U.S. during her time at NBC News.

Turness’ new role will put her in charge of 6,000 people and make her responsible for broadcasts that reach over half a billion people around the globe.

The company says her title of CEO reflects the BBC’s ambition to continue to build the BBC’s global news brand and continue to grow its news service. Turness will also be nominated to join the BBC board.

Turness’ based salary will be £400,000, or about $541,000 U.S. dollars, according to the broadcaster.

Her start date at BBC has not been determined. Turness is currently CEO of ITN.

She was previously NBC News’ president starting 2013. She was eventually replaced but promoted to lead up the network’s international efforts, which included a planned expansion of the Eurnoews brand. Those plans were called off and Turness left NBC.

Her time at NBC was marked with some ratings gains for the network’s key news programs, which had been slipping behind ABC in particular. However, she was also heavily criticism about how she handled Brian Williams’ inaccurate statements. Some insiders at the time told various news outlets that Turness was unqualified for the position. She also notably selected Jamie Horowitz to lead “Today,” one of the network’s most valuable assets, but he ended up leaving the company after about 10 weeks.

She was an editor at ITV News before joining NBC.

At NBC, Turness was responsible for about half as many staffers than the BBC has, while ITN has less than a thousand, her move to the iconic BBC is significant in that it’s adding considerable responsibility to someone who hasn’t had much experience leading a news organization of that scale.