Friday, August 7, 2020

Comcast Scraps NBC Sky World News

Sky News’ ambitious plan to launch a new global rolling news channel in conjunction with the US network NBC has been abandoned, leaving behind dozens of recently hired journalists and a half-built TV studio in London, reports The Guardian.

Deborah Turness
NBC Sky World News was due to launch this summer and promised to hire hundreds of staff with a brief to challenge the dominance of CNN in the world of global TV news.

The channel was being led by Deborah Turness, the former ITV News editor who moved to New York to run NBC News between 2013 and 2017. Leading reporters from rival outlets, such as Matthew Price of the BBC, were hired across with the promise of building a new station from scratch, complete with its own network of foreign bureaux, only for the project to be “paused” in early April when the pandemic made a launch impossible.

It was to be one of the first transatlantic joint ventures between NBC and Sky, which have both been owned by the US media business Comcast since Rupert Murdoch sold his British television business in 2018.

Andy Lack
After months of uncertainty, staff at NBC Sky World News were told this week that the launch would not go ahead, leaving around 60 employees looking for jobs. Some journalists had left jobs elsewhere during the pandemic to join the startup, while others are concerned about their legal status after moving to the UK on visas tied to their employment at the station.

Although the pandemic and the economic downturn are likely to be blamed for the channel’s failure, employees at the station suggested that the departure in May of the long-term NBC News boss Andy Lack – who had long planned an international TV station to rival CNN – played a key role. He had been a driving force behind the channel’s creation at NBC’s 30 Rock headquarters in New York.

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