NBC News is the news division of the American broadcast television network NBC, formerly known as the National Broadcasting Company when it was founded on radio. The division operates under NBCUniversal News Group, a subsidiary of NBCUniversal, in turn a subsidiary of Comcast. The group's various operations report to the president of NBC News, Noah Oppenheim.
NBC News aired the first, regularly scheduled news program in American broadcast television history on February 21, 1940. The group's broadcasts are produced and aired from 30 Rockefeller Center, NBC's headquarters in New York City.
The division presides over America's number-one-rated newscast, NBC Nightly News, and the longest-running television series in American history, Meet The Press, the Sunday morning program of newsmakers interviews. NBC News also offers 70 years of rare historic footage from the NBCUniversal Archives online.
NBC News operates a 24-hour cable news network known as MSNBC, which includes the organization's flagship daytime news operation, MSNBC Live. The cable network shares staff and editorial control with NBC News. In 2017, the organization entered into a partnership and purchased a 25% stake in Euronews, a European 24-hour news network.
The first, regularly scheduled, American television newscast in history was made by NBC News on February 21, 1940, anchored by Lowell Thomas (1892-1981), and airing weeknights at 6:45 p.m. It was simply Lowell Thomas in front of a television camera while doing his NBC network radio broadcast, the television simulcast seen only in New York. In June 1940, NBC, through its flagship station in New York City, W2XBS (renamed commercial WNBT in 1941, now WNBC) operating on channel one, televised 30¼ hours of coverage of the Republican National Convention live and direct from Philadelphia. The station used a series of relays from Philadelphia to New York and on to upper New York State, for rebroadcast on W2XB in Schenectady (now WRGB), making this among the first "network" programs of NBC Television. Due to wartime and technical restrictions, there were no live telecasts of the 1944 conventions, although films of the events were reportedly shown over WNBT the next day.
About this time, there were irregularly scheduled, quasi-network newscasts originating from NBC's WNBT in New York City and reportedly fed to WPTZ (now KYW-TV) in Philadelphia and WRGB in Schenectady, NY, such as Esso sponsored news features a well as The War As It Happens in the final days of World War II, another irregularly scheduled NBC television newsreel program which was also seen in New York, Philadelphia and Schenectady on the relatively few (roughly 5000) television sets which existed at the time. After the war, NBC Television Newsreel aired filmed news highlights with narration. Later in 1948, when sponsored by Camel Cigarettes, NBC Television Newsreel was renamed Camel Newsreel Theatre and then, when John Cameron Swayze was added as an on-camera anchor in 1949, the program was renamed Camel News Caravan.
In 1948, NBC teamed up with Life magazine to provide election night coverage of President Harry S. Truman's surprising victory over New York governor Thomas E. Dewey. The television audience was small, but NBC's share in New York was double that of any other outlet. The following year, the Camel News Caravan, anchored by John Cameron Swayze, debuted on NBC. Lacking the graphics and technology of later years, it nonetheless contained many of the elements of modern newscasts. NBC hired its own film crews and in the program's early years, it dominated CBS's competing program, which did not hire its own film crews until 1953. (by contrast, CBS spent lavishly on Edward R. Murrow's weekly series, See It Now). In 1950, David Brinkley began serving as the program's Washington correspondent, but attracted little attention outside the network until paired with Chet Huntley in 1956. In 1955, the Camel News Caravan fell behind CBS's Douglas Edwards with the News, and Swayze lost the already tepid support of NBC executives. The following year, NBC replaced the program with the Huntley-Brinkley Report.
Beginning in 1951, NBC News was managed by director of news Bill McAndrew, who reported to vice president of news and public affairs J. Davidson Taylor.
Television assumed an increasingly prominent role in American family life in the late 1950s, and NBC News was called television's "champion of news coverage." NBC president Robert Kintner provided the news division with ample amounts of both financial resources and air time. In 1956, the network paired anchors Chet Huntley and David Brinkley and the two became celebrities, supported by reporters including John Chancellor, Frank McGee, Edwin Newman, Sander Vanocur, Nancy Dickerson, Tom Pettit, and Ray Scherer.
Created by producer Reuven Frank, NBC's Huntley-Brinkley Report had its debut on October 29, 1956. During much of its 14-year run, it exceeded the viewership levels of its CBS News competition, anchored initially by Douglas Edwards and, beginning in April 1962, by Walter Cronkite.
NBC's vice president of news and public affairs, J. Davidson Taylor, was a Southerner who, with producer Reuven Frank, was determined that NBC would lead television's coverage of the civil rights movement. In 1955, NBC provided national coverage of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s leadership of the bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama, airing reports from Frank McGee, then news director of NBC's Montgomery affiliate WSFA-TV, who would later join the network. A year later, John Chancellor's coverage of the admission of black students to Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas was the first occasion when the key news story came from television rather than print and prompted a prominent U.S. senator to observe later, "When I think of Little Rock, I think of John Chancellor." Other reporters who covered the movement for the network included Sander Vanocur, Herbert Kaplow, Charles Quinn, and Richard Valeriani, who was hit with an ax handle at a demonstration in Marion, Alabama in 1965.
While Walter Cronkite's enthusiasm for the space race eventually won the anchorman viewers for CBS, NBC News, with the work of correspondents such as Frank McGee, Roy Neal, Jay Barbree, and Peter Hackes, also provided ample coverage of American manned space missions in the Project Mercury, Project Gemini, and Project Apollo programs. In an era when space missions rated continuous coverage, NBC configured its largest studio, Studio 8H, for space coverage. It utilized models and mockups of rockets and spacecraft, maps of the earth and moon to show orbital trackage, and stages on which animated figures created by puppeteer Bil Baird were used to depict movements of astronauts before on-board spacecraft television cameras were feasible. (Studio 8H had been home to the NBC Symphony Orchestra and is now the home of Saturday Night Live.) NBC's coverage of the first moon landing in 1969 earned the network an Emmy Award.
In the late 1950s, Kintner reorganized the chain of command at the network, making Bill McAndrew president of NBC News, reporting directly to Kintner. McAndrew served in that position until his death in 1968. McAndrew was succeeded by his executive vice president, producer Reuven Frank, who held the position until 1973.
On November 22, 1963, NBC interrupted various programs on its affiliate stations at 1:45 p.m. to announce that President John F. Kennedy had been shot in Dallas, Texas. Eight minutes later, at 1:53:12 p.m., NBC broke into programming with a network bumper slide and Chet Huntley, Bill Ryan and Frank McGee informing the viewers what was going on as it happened; but since a camera was not in service, the reports were audio only. However, NBC did not begin broadcasting over the air until 1:57 p.m. ET. About 40 minutes later, after word came that JFK was pronounced dead, NBC suspended regular programming and carried 71 hours of uninterrupted news coverage of the assassination and the funeral of the president—including the only live broadcast of the fatal shooting of Kennedy's assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, by Jack Ruby as Oswald was being led in handcuffs by law-enforcement officials through the basement of Dallas Police Headquarters.
NBC's ratings lead began to slip toward the end of the 1960s and fell sharply when Chet Huntley retired in 1970 (Huntley died of cancer in 1974). The loss of Huntley, along with a reluctance by RCA to fund NBC News at a similar level as CBS was funding its news division, left NBC News in the doldrums. NBC's primary news show gained its present title, NBC Nightly News, on August 3, 1970.
The network tried a platoon of anchors (Brinkley, McGee, and John Chancellor) during the early months of Nightly News. Despite the efforts of the network's eventual lead anchor, the articulate, even-toned Chancellor, and an occasional first-place finish in the Nielsens, Nightly News in the 1970s was primarily a strong second. By the end of the decade, NBC had to contend not only with a powerful CBS but also a surging ABC, led by Roone Arledge. Tom Brokaw became sole anchor in 1983, after co-anchoring with Roger Mudd for a year, and began leading NBC's efforts. In 1986 and 1987, NBC won the top spot in the Nielsens for the first time in years, only to fall back when Nielsen's ratings methodology changed. In late 1996, Nightly News again moved into first place, a spot it has held onto in most of the succeeding years. Brian Williams assumed primary anchor duties when Brokaw retired in December 2004. In February 2015, NBC suspended Williams for six months for telling an inaccurate story about his experience in the 2003 invasion of Iraq. He was replaced by Lester Holt on an interim basis. On June 18, 2015, it was announced that Holt would become the permanent anchor and Williams would be moved to MSNBC as an anchor of breaking news and special reports beginning in August.
In 1993, Dateline NBC broadcast an investigative report about the safety of General Motors (GM) trucks. GM discovered the "actual footage" utilized in the broadcast had been rigged by the inclusion of explosive incendiaries attached to the gas tanks and the use of improper sealants for those tanks. GM subsequently filed an anti-defamation lawsuit against NBC, which publicly admitted the results of the tests were rigged and settled the lawsuit with GM on the very same day.
On October 22, 2007, Nightly News moved into its new high definition studios, at Studio 3C at NBC Studios in 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City. The network's 24-hour cable network, MSNBC, joined the network in New York on that day as well. The new studios/headquarters for NBC News and MSNBC are now located in one area.
During the financial crisis of 2007–2008, NBC News was urged to save $500 million by NBC Universal. On that occasion, NBC News laid off several of its in-house reporters such as Kevin Corke, Jeannie Ohm and Don Teague. This was the largest layoff in NBC News history.
After the sudden death of the influential moderator Tim Russert of Meet the Press in June 2008, Tom Brokaw took over as an interim host; and on December 14, 2008, David Gregory became the new moderator of the show until August 14, 2014, when NBC announced that NBC News Political Director Chuck Todd would take over as the 12th moderator of Meet the Press starting September 7, 2014. David Gregory's last broadcast was August 10, 2014.
By 2009, NBC had established leadership in network news, airing the highest-rated morning, evening, and Sunday interview news programs. Its ability to share costs with MSNBC and share in the cable network's advertising and subscriber revenue made it far more profitable than its network rivals.
On March 27, 2012, NBC News broadcast an edited segment from a 911 call placed by George Zimmerman before he shot Trayvon Martin. The editing made it appear that Zimmerman volunteered that Martin was black, rather than merely responding to the dispatcher's inquiry, which would support a view that the shooting was racially motivated. A media watchdog organization accused NBC News of engaging in "an all-out falsehood." While NBC News initially declined to comment, the news agency did issue an apology to viewers. The Washington Post called the statement "skimpy on the details on just how the mistake unfolded."
On December 13, 2012, NBC News reporter Richard Engel and his five crew members, Aziz Akyavaş, Ghazi Balkiz, John Kooistra, Ian Rivers and Ammar Cheikh Omar, were NBC News team kidnapping in Syria. Having escaped after five days in captivity, Engel said he believed that a Shabiha group loyal to al-Assad was behind the abduction, and that the crew was freed by the Ahrar al-Sham group five days later. Engel's account was however challenged from early on. In April 2015, NBC had to revise the kidnapping account, following further investigations by The New York Times, which suggested that the NBC team "was almost certainly taken by a Sunni criminal element affiliated with the Free Syrian Army," rather than by a loyalist Shia group.
The NBC News division was the first news team to possess the tape of Donald Trump recorded by Access Hollywood, after a producer of the NBC show had made the news division aware of it; the News division internally debated publishing it for three days, and then an unidentified source gave a copy of the tape to Washington Post reporter David Fahrenthold, who contacted NBC for comment, notified the Trump campaign that he had the video, obtained confirmation of its authenticity, and released a story and the tape itself, scooping NBC. Alerted that the Post might release the story immediately, NBC News released its own story shortly after the Post story was published.
On November 29, 2017, NBC News announced that Matt Lauer's employment had been terminated after an unidentified female NBC employee reported that Lauer had sexually harassed her during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, and that the harassment continued after they returned to New York. NBC News management said it had been aware that The New York Times and Variety had been conducting independent investigations of Lauer's behavior, but that management had been unaware of previous allegations against Lauer. Variety reported allegations by at least ten of Lauer's current and former colleagues. Additional accusations went public in the ensuing days.
NBC News President Noah Oppenheim suggested an investigation into alleged sexual misconduct by Harvey Weinstein after NBC contributor Ronan Farrow pitched a general idea to report on sexual harassment in Hollywood. After a 10-month investigation by Farrow and NBC producer Rich McHugh, NBC reviewed a rough cut and decided it was not ready to broadcast. After some additional reporting, a story by Farrow about Weinstein's alleged misconduct appeared in the New Yorker Magazine. A story on the subject of Weinstein's alleged behavior also appeared several days earlier in The New York Times. Following criticism for missing a major story it had initiated, NBC News defended the decision, saying that at the time Farrow was at NBC, the early reporting still had important missing necessary elements. The Hollywood Reporter reported that the actress Rose McGown had withdrawn her consent for an on-air interview with NBC, and Farrow had no other named accusers on-the-record. Farrow's article in The New Yorker had multiple named accusers.
Nine men have served as president of NBC News during its history: Reuven Frank (1968–73, 1981–85), Richard Wald (1973–77), Lester M. Crystal (1977–79), William J. Small (1979–81), Lawrence Grossman (1985–88), Michael Gartner (1988–93), Andrew Lack (1993–2001), Neal Shapiro (2001–05), and Steve Capus (2005–March 5, 2013). In August 2013, Deborah Turness assumed the role as president of NBC News, becoming the first woman to head the division. In February 2017, Today Show producer and executive Noah Oppenheim was named president of NBC News.
In November 2016, NBC News Group chairman Andy Lack announced NBCUniversal intended to purchase a 25% stake in Euronews, a European news organization competing against the likes of BBC News and ITV News The transaction was completed at the end of May 2017; Deborah Turness, former President of NBC News, was appointed to run "NBC News International," to perform NBC's role in the partnership, in which each network would contribute reporting to the other.
NBC News Radio has been distributed by iHeartMedia and its TTWN Networks since July 2016. It is provided to the network's 24/7 News Source affiliates and includes a top of the hour newscast along with other audio content which is heard on over 1,000 radio stations.
The original NBC Radio Network was purchased by Westwood One in 1987 as General Electric, which acquired NBC's parent company RCA, divested most properties not pertaining to the NBC television network. NBC Radio's news operation was merged into the Mutual Broadcasting System, then into Westwood One's then-corporate sibling CBS Radio, and eventually assimilated into the syndicator itself. Initially just a service limited to one-hour reports from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET, on March 5, 2012, Dial Global – who had acquired Westwood One – announced NBC News Radio would expand to a full-time 24-hour radio news network, replacing CNN Radio (that itself replaced both NBC Radio and Mutual in 1999).
It broadcasts in a 15-minute cycle with the latest news.
In 1982, NBC News began production on NBC News Overnight with anchors Linda Ellerbee, Lloyd Dobyns, and Bill Schechner. That program was cancelled in December 1983, but in 1991, NBC News launched another overnight news show called NBC Nightside. During its run, the show's anchors included Sara James, Bruce Hall, Antonio Mora, Tom Miller, Campbell Brown, Kim Hindrew, Tom Donavan, and Tonya Strong.
NBC Nightside lasted until 1998 and was replaced by "NBC All Night", composed of reruns of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Late Night with Conan O'Brien, and later from January 1, 2007 to September 23, 2011, Poker After Dark. NBC now airs same day repeats of the fourth hour of Today and CNBC's Mad Money on weekdays, LXTV programs on early Sunday mornings, and Meet the Press and Dateline encores on early Monday mornings.
NBC News Channel is a news video and report feed service, similar to a wire service, providing pre-produced international, national and regional stories some with fronting reporters customized for NBC network affiliates. It is based in Charlotte, North Carolina and is connected to the studios of Charlotte NBC affiliate WCNC-TV. NBC News Channel also served as the production base of NBC Nightside and "Canal de Noticias, NBC", a Spanish language news wheel service for Latin America. Service ended two years before company bought Telemundo Network
NBC News got the first American news interviews from two Russian presidents (Vladimir Putin, Mikhail Gorbachev), and Brokaw was the only American television news correspondent to witness the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.
MSNBC is also shown occasionally on sister network CNBC Europe during breaking news, and Nightly News and Meet the Press are also shown regularly. NBC Nightly News is shown in the Philippines on 9TV (formerly Talktv and Solar News Channel), while Early Today was officially dropped from the network in December 2013, but they replaced by the repeats of Inside Edition. NBC Nightly News, along with the full program lineup of NBC, was carried by affiliate VSB-TV in Bermuda.
The Seven Network in Australia has close ties with NBC and has used a majority of the network's imaging and slogans since the 1970s. Seven News has featured The Mission as its news theme since the mid-1980s. Local newscasts were named Seven Nightly News from the mid-1980s until around 2000. NBC and Seven will often share news recourses between the two countries. NBC News has been known to use Seven News reporters for live reports on a developing news story in Australia. Seven News will sometimes also incorporate an NBC News report into its national bulletins. Today, Weekend Today and Meet The Press are all broadcast on the Seven Network during the early morning hours from 3-5 a.m., just before Seven's own morning show Sunrise.
In the United Kingdom, the ITV network, used to air segments from NBC Nightly News on their ITV News at 5:30 morning newscast before it was cancelled in December 2012. NBC News share facilities and crew in the UK with ITN, who is the news provider for ITV.
1 All NBC owned-and-operated stations are considered NBC News bureaus, including those not listed here.