The News with Brian Williams, currently coexisting on MSNBC and CNBC,
will become CNBC-exclusive with some format modifications this summer.
That action will also officially begin the countdown for Williams to assume
Tom Brokaw's position as NBC Nightly News anchor and managing editor at
the end of November 2004.
NBC announced the CNBC-only status of The News during its New York
press conference Tuesday, highlighting the status of Brokaw and Williams.
In addition to extending his contract as Nightly News anchor through
late 2004, Brokaw will anchor and serve as principal reporter on a number of
primetime documentaries and specials. He's also expected to continue hosting
MSNBC's annual Silicon Summit special and appear on other programs for
What remained unclear was the hour-long cable newscast's fate when Williams
takes the NBC Nightly News anchor chair and, should The News
continue, who will succeed Williams.
Williams will remain anchor and managing editor of The News until the
transition date, but he will increase his NBC output as substitute Nightly
News anchor and field correspondent on specials and breaking-news
However, Williams will do more one-on-one interviews on The News when
its CNBC-only presentation occurs, and the program will have 'a little more
business tilt,' he said. 'You can also make assumptions that we'll have more
CEOs in the interview spot and showcase the best and brightest minds of that
group,' Williams added.
MSNBC and CNBC have shared The News since its beginning in July 1996:
MSNBC presents the newscast at 8 p.m., while CNBC airs a repeat or an updated
version two hours later.
A few weeks ago, MSNBC disclosed plans to move The News up one hour --
and out of primetime -- to make way for a new Phil Donahue talk show. As
negotiations with Brokaw and Williams proceeded, NBC re-examined that call,
opting instead for CNBC exclusivity.
'We've said all along that we didn't want to keep Brian's audience divided
among two cable networks,' NBC News president Neal Shapiro explained. 'We didn't
think about taking it off altogether. CNBC has the more upscale audience, and
that's the better fit for Brian's newscast.'
The proposed time switch with Donahue's new show had 'zero' impact on the
decision, Williams added.
'You're looking at a very happy guy,' he said. 'The people I've worked with
the last six years have been producing a terrific hour of TV news each night,
and I'm delighted to continue to be working with them.'
The exact date when The News will air on CNBC exclusively has not yet
Also to be determined is the program's existence as Brokaw and Williams
engage in their new roles. Shapiro didn't provide any clues to what might happen
then. 'We have a bunch of issues to work out, and we haven't figured out how to
deal with those issues yet,' he said.
Brokaw, for his part, declined to say what kind of cable role he'll have with
NBC when he departs Nightly News. Documentaries and in-depth issue
specials could factor in. 'There's an enormous appetite out there for that kind
of reporting and for placing current affairs in the appropriate context,' he
said. 'That's a personal mandate. I'm not going off to be in the anchorman's
Neither Brokaw nor Williams was asked to take pay cuts, Shapiro