Deborah Turness leaves NBC for ITN
By Matt Collins Article may include affiliate links
NBC hired Turness, who is British, away from ITV News in 2013 to lead its news division stateside.
During her tenure at NBC, the network saw turmoil after she hired Jamie Horowitz to lead “Today” and he ended up quitting after 10 months. She also was in charge as the network navigated the scandal over then-“NBC Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams‘ misleading statements.
Turness’ handling of the Williams situation was criticized widely and talk began circulating that she wasn’t well liked within the network — with some feeling she wasn’t qualified to manage the network’s news division.
Eventually, Noah Oppenheim would take over in 2017, with Turness taking the role of president of a new division called NBC News International. Part of her duties were to manage NBC’s stake in Euronews.
Oppenheim has not been free of criticism during his tenure, with journalistic Ronan Farrow accusing him of refusing to move forward with reporting about the Harvey Weinstein sex scandal. Oppenheim has also steered the network through the high profile firing of Matt Lauer for alleged sexual and workplace misconduct as well as declining ratings across many of the network’s once dominate shows.
Some saw Turness’ move as a lateral move disguised, at least in part, as a “promotion” to manage a smaller operation in a market she was more familiar with. The change also allowed her to move back to Britain.
Her departure is not surprising given that NBC had opted to sell its stake in Euronews (scrapping plans at rebranding the service with the NBC name and logo) to focus on launching NBC Sky World News to be a joint venture between NBC News and Sky News, which NBCUniversal parent Comcast outbid rivals for after 21st Century Fox sold most of its other assets to Disney.
NBC Sky World News was slated to launch in 2020, but those plans were delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. NBC later announced the project would be canceled altogether. It laid off about 60 people it had hired for the venture in August 2020.