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'NBC News' President Steps Down

By David Bauder, AP Television Writer

NEW YORK -- NBC News President Steve Capus, who presided over years of strong ratings at the news division and expanded digital offerings but was hurt by the downfall of the "Today" show, said Friday that he was resigning.

The Philadelphia-area native joined NBC News 20 years ago and produced various newscasts for Brian Williams before being appointed news division president by Jeff Zucker, at the time chief of NBC Universal, on the week that Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans in 2005.

NBC parent company Comcast Corp.'s (CMCSA) decision last year to appoint Pat Fili-Krushel to a supervisory role over the company's news properties signaled to many that Capus' tenure was nearing an end. His contract gave Capus an opt-out provision and he chose to exercise it. Capus said in an email to staff members that "it is now time to head in a new direction," although he hasn't said what that might be.

"I have seldom described my role as presiding over NBC News," Capus said. "Instead, I have viewed it as leading a collaborative effort to pursue journalistic excellence."

A primary yardstick for network news' success is the ratings for the flagship evening news program, and NBC's broadcast with Williams has held on to the top spot. Capus has expanded NBC's reach with specialty Web sites aimed at black and Latino audiences, and reached a deal to take over all responsibility for the main NBC news site, buying out Microsoft's (MSFT) stake.

Capus also oversaw the MSNBC news division. MSNBC has become profitable through its decision to skew liberal in its commentary.

Tim Russert's sudden death forced Capus to revamp the Sunday morning political talk show "Meet the Press," where David Gregory has run hot and cold since taking over.

The profitable "Today" show has taken a hard fall in the past year and now runs a consistent second to ABC's "Good Morning America." NBC was widely criticized for mismanagement of Ann Curry's dismissal as "Today" anchor last summer. Jim Bell, the show's executive producer, stepped down last fall.

Fili-Krushel set out a new temporary management structure, increasing the authority of executives Alex Wallace and Antoine Sanfuentes, until she names a successor.

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