Mediate’s Andrew Kirell speculates on Steve Capus jumping to CNN…
But in recent days, we have learned that NBC News President Steve Capus wants the job. Badly. And high-level producers around 30 Rock are talking as if he might actually get the job too. For Capus, who is long rumored to be on the way out at NBC News, landing the CNN job would be a professional 180°, maybe even more, since the CNN gig would afford him far more autonomy than he currently enjoys. Even at the height of his influence, Capus exercised minimal authority over MSNBC since his boss, Zucker, wasn’t shy about managing the news channel closely. Now Capus reports to management veteran Patricia Fili-Krushel who is a key member of Comcast CEO Steve Burke‘s inner circle.
Capus would be an interesting choice…a better fit than the brand destroying Jeff Zucker would be. However, there is another angle that isn’t being talked about a lot here. The job is for CNN Worldwide but the problem – and, presumably, the reason Walton is stepping down…or being pushed out by Time Warner…is CNN Domestic. CNN Worldwide isn’t the source of concern. It is facing increased competition from the BBC, Al Jazeera, Sky News, and others but that isn’t the immediate problem. The immediate problem is CNN US and it’s negative ratings trend, especially in primetime. And therein lies the irony for the opening is for an executive position at a level higher than the position(s) directly responsible for the state of CNN US.
Sure, Walton did reportedly block some moves that Jon Klein wanted to make – Keith Olbermann to be specific…if you believe the rumors. But CNN US under Jon Klein was essentially Klein’s baby just as the CNN of today is essentially Ken Jautz and Mark Whitaker’s baby. Not Walton’s. Nor will it be Capus’ should he get the gig. Certainly there will be input from Capus but he won’t be doing day to day management of CNN US and its issues. That’s not in his job’s description. That’s why there is a position of President for CNN US. And given the ifrastructure already in place at CNN US, radical change, if that’s where things are headed, will not be possible without radical staffing changes. But a lot of those changes will also be handled by the President of CNN US and not the President of CNN Worldwide (though he probably would be consulted at some point).
In other words, whoever gets hired as President of CNN Worldwide, it will be but the first personnel move in the process of turning CNN US around. There will be many others.