NEW YORK (AP) — NBC has changed the leadership of its troubled news division by bringing back the executive who led the network out of a dark period two decades ago.
The hiring of Andy Lack as chairman of NBC News and MSNBC was announced Friday in a memo to staff from NBC Universal CEO Steve Burke. Lack, who was NBC News president from 1993 to 2001, subsequently ran Sony Music Entertainment, worked at Bloomberg Media and most recently has been head of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, a federal agency.
Among Lack's first duties will be deciding the future of Brian Williams, who is serving an unpaid six-month suspension for misrepresenting his role covering the Iraq War in 2003 and is the subject of an ongoing internal investigation into other alleged misstatements. Lack ran NBC News when Williams was positioned as the expected successor to Tom Brokaw as "Nightly News" anchor.
A longtime news producer at CBS News, Lack became NBC News president when the division was at a low ebb, reeling from the scandal of engineering a truck explosion for a "Dateline NBC" story. He led the news division to the top in the morning, evening and on weekends, and was in charge when MSNBC was started.
He faces other new challenges, with the "Today" show having stalled in its effort to retake the morning lead from ABC's "Good Morning America." Sunday's "Meet the Press" is trying to rebuild behind Chuck Todd after last year's messy ouster of David Gregory. And MSNBC has been in a prolonged slump, leading many to wonder if it will tweak or change its identity as a network dominated by left-leaning commentary.
"Andy's experience and familiarity with our company and specifically the news division will be critical to our growth and future success," Burke said in his memo to NBC staff.
Lack and other NBC executives were not available for interviews on Friday, the network said.
He'll take over for Pat Fili-Krushel, who has been the executive in charge of the NBC News Group. The only difference in Lack's duties is that he will not, as Fili-Krushel has, oversee CNBC. Burke praised Fili-Krushel for helping NBC News integrate its broadcasting and digital operations and said she will continue working for him, although her new duties are unclear.
NBC News President Deborah Turness and MSNBC President Phil Griffin will both report to Lack.