Phil Griffin promoted at NBC News

Move will allow him to focus on MSNBC full time

NEW YORK -- NBC News said Wednesday that it has promoted Phil Griffin to president of MSNBC, a move designed to let him focus on the news channel full time.

Griffin, who was a senior vp of NBC News in charge of both MSNBC and "Today," will be in charge of the day-to-day operations of the news channel that has made waves on and off the air in recent months. Griffin will drop his oversight responsibilities for "Today"; an announcement about who will take over exec duties at the morning show will come in the near future.

"This is a recognition that MSNBC as a business has matured to the point where this kind of full-time management was essential," NBC News president Steve Capus told The Reporter on Wednesday. "Phil was doing a great job juggling a lot of balls, but I want him to really focus on the management of MSNBC."

Griffin will continue to report to Capus. Griffin also will be responsible for network specials; Phil Alongi, executive producer of NBC News specials, will report to him.

Griffin said that the past six months at MSNBC have seen growth in ratings and revenue.

"This is more an acknowledgment that MSNBC is a bigger and bigger part of NBC News in terms of revenue, image and the place for news," Griffin said. "It needs full-time attention."

It's been quite a year for MSNBC, which has seen its primetime ratings jump 54% on the strength of shows including "Countdown With Keith Olbermann." It also has garnered a new interest in and cooperation from such NBC News talent as Brian Williams, Tom Brokaw, David Gregory and Andrea Mitchell, who have appeared regularly on MSNBC. Mitchell and Gregory have their own daily programs; Williams, Brokaw and the late Tim Russert regularly appeared during primary coverage.

The integration with NBC News, which had always been talked about but never fully occurred until recently, became literal in the past year when MSNBC left its longtime home in Secaucus, N.J., for new quarters with a state-of-the-art newsroom at 30 Rockefeller Plaza. Griffin's influence has been seen in front of and behind the camera.

Going forward, Griffin said that MSNBC wants to continue its strategy of focusing on political news as well as skew younger than its cable news competitors. He wants to grow the audience as well.

"We want to be where we are: smarter, younger, more interesting, more entertaining -- all of those elements," Griffin said.

A 25-year veteran of NBC News who has been with the channel since July 1996, Griffin was named senior vp in April 2005. Before that he was vp primetime programming at MSNBC as well as producing "Hardball With Chris Matthews" from 1999-2004. He has also been a senior broadcast producer for "NBC Nightly News With Tom Brokaw" and in 1995 led NBC News' coverage of the O.J. Simpson trial. He also worked for "Today" and began his career at CNN in 1980.