Media

CBS merges news division with local TV stations

CBS is merging its news arm with its local television stations to form a new division that will be co-led by a former ABC executive, the network announced on Thursday.

Wendy McMahon, most recently the president of ABC's Owned Television Stations Group, will lead the division alongside Neeraj Khemlani, who is currently an executive at Hearst Newspapers.

The new division will house the CBS News broadcast resources, streaming news service CBSN, 10 CBSN Local platforms, cbsnews.com and 28 CBS-owned stations in 17 major U.S. markets.

The organizational change is meant to "maximize the power of CBS' news gathering and production operations to serve audiences" the company said.

CBS did not specify how jobs would be affected by the merging of two units.

A source familiar with the process said questions about possible logistical and structural changes will likely be answered in the weeks after Khemlani and McMahon assume control.

Khemlani and McMahon will become presidents at CBS and begin coleading the new division next month, the company said. They will report to George Cheeks, CEO and president of CBS Entertainment Group.

McMahon's immediate departure from ABC was reported earlier Thursday.

The current president of CBS News, Susan Zirinsky, will remain in her position until Khemlani and McMahon take over. Zirinsky is stepping down to take a production deal with the company's owner, ViacomCBS.

Thursday's announcement confirmed that Zirinsky will be joining a CBS News content studio launching later this year.

"I also want to thank Z for her unparalleled dedication to CBS, including her meaningful accomplishments leading the division the past two years," Cheeks wrote in a memo to CBS employees. "She took the reins at News in March 2019 at a moment of turmoil in the division, creating stability and renewing passion for the brand internally and externally."

Zirinsky took over as head of CBS News from David Rhodes in March 2019.

Since the end of January, CBS Evening News has lagged NBC Nightly News and ABC World News Tonight in average household viewers.

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