Aug 13, 2023 - Economy & Business

CBS News chief Neeraj Khemlani steps down

Photo: Michele Crowe/CBS via Getty Images

CBS News co-president Neeraj Khemlani is stepping down from his position after a little more than two years on the job, according to a staff memo obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: The abrupt announcement Sunday evening did not include a succession plan.

Details: In a separate note obtained by Axios, CBS president and CEO George Cheeks, who also serves as chief content officer of news and sports for Paramount+, said he would update staff "soon" with information about a new leadership and structure for the division.

  • In his own memo, Khemlani said he decided to step back from his current role to take on a new "multi-year, multi-platform first look deal with CBS to develop content."
  • That deal will include documentaries, scripted series and books for Simon & Schuster, he wrote.

Be smart: CBS News made several strategic hires under Khemlani, including Cecilia Vega and Robert Costa, but some of the news division's programs remain stronger than others.

  • While "60 Minutes" continues to be the most-watched TV news program and "Face the Nation" has been the top-rated Sunday morning political commentary show for the past few years, the network's weekday programs, like "CBS Mornings" and "CBS Evening News" lag behind competitors in ratings.

Zoom out: Khemlani's exit marks the third departure in four years of an executive leading CBS News.

  • He and longtime television executive Wendy McMahon became co-presidents of CBS News in 2021, replacing veteran CBS News producer Susan Zirinsky.
  • Zirinsky replaced David Rhodes as the president of CBS News in 2019.

The big picture: Khemlani's departure also marks the latest in a string of news executive exits in the past few years.

  • CNN CEO Chris Licht exited the network after 13 months in June, following a damning profile about him published by The Atlantic.
  • NBC News' longtime president Noah Oppenheim left earlier this year amid a broader reorganization.
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