CBS News using consulting firm where its co-president’s brother is an exec

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A move by CBS News and Television stations to hire an outside firm to advise it on potential layoffs is raising eyebrows after it was revealed that one of its execs is the brother of the network division’s co-president, The New York Post reports.

Neeraj Khemlani, along with Wendy McMahon, were appointed as co-president of CBS News and Television Stations in May 2021 and soon after that FTI Consulting was hired.

Khemlani, who has rustled feathers for what some say is an abrasive management style, has a brother, Sanjeev, who is senior managing director of FTI, although he reportedly is reportedly not working on the CBS account.

A CBS rep told The Post the network was an FTI client before the current co-president arrangement was announced, while FTI declined to comment.

The deal is noteworthy because FTI, while having worked on the Refinery29 and Vice Media merger and Entercom’s bid for CBS Radio, does not have any TV network clients in its portfolio. There are several other well known consulting groups that have more experience with TV news network divisions.

Prior to the current leadership, CBS made significant cost cutting moves at its owned stations in major markets, including letting go prominent on air talent and behind the scenes staffers.

Meanwhile, with CBS’s merger with Viacom done, Wall Street and insiders are looking for what move the combined company, ViacomCBS, will make next.

The new leadership has been vocal about finding ways to cut costs at the mostly third rated news division. Efforts already under way included cutting digital staffers and relying more on local newsrooms for stories aired on the network’s newscasts.

There are also reportedly talks about reducing “CBS Evening News” anchor Norah O’Donnell’s estimated $8 million yearly salary as her flashy new D.C. debut failed to improve much in the ratings.

Looking at the larger picture, cost cutting at the network could make its balance sheets look better for a possible sale of ViacomCBS. One possibly purchaser could be Comcast, which already owns NBC and runs its own news division.

The concept of cutting costs is also something that was promised as one of the key selling points by re-merging the two companies.