Seigenthaler exiting NBC News

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NEW YORK -- "NBC Nightly News" weekend anchor John Seigenthaler has left the network after 11 years when his contract wasn't renewed.

Seigenthaler kept quiet about his departure until Sunday night when he told viewers that it would be his last newscast. He thanked the viewers and NBC News.

"We've got our weekends back," he told his family.

NBC News declined comment about whether NBC Uni 2.0 cutbacks forced Seigenthaler out.
"We love John. We think he's terrific," an NBC spokeswoman said. "His contract up, and he is going to pursue new opportunities."

A source said, however, that the new financial realities at NBC News -- which has taken a big hit in the NBC Uni 2.0 effort that will trim about 10% of its work force -- meant that the network couldn't really afford to have a full-time weekend news anchor. Both CBS and ABC give their weekend slots to full-time correspondents who have either Saturday or Sunday anchoring assignments.
It's likely that NBC News will announce a new weekend anchor -- or perhaps two, one for Saturday and one for Sunday -- within the coming days.

Seigenthaler, who became weekend anchor in 1999, presided over a top-rated newscast. Saturday's "NBC Nightly News" averaged 6.7 million viewers season-to-date compared with ABC's 4.9 million viewers and CBS' 4 million viewers. Sunday's newscast averaged 5.9 million viewers compared with ABC's 5 million and CBS' 4.1 million.
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