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Who’s In Line to Take Over at NBC News?

In his farewell note to staff, departing NBC News president Steve Capus writes, “I have much I hope to accomplish in the next phase of my career.” So, too, do the men and women vying to replace Capus. Capus says NBCU News group Chairman Pat Fili-Krushel “will be meeting with people throughout the division, and articulating her vision for the NBCUniversal News Group.”

There are strong internal candidates, some of whom, it has been announced by Fili-Krushel, will take on additional duties. Alex Wallace (above, right), who oversees “Today,” and “Rock Center” will now oversee “Nightly News,” where she was once EP. Wallace, who’s been with NBC since 2005, would be the first female news president after nine men have held the job since 1968.

Phil Griffin will likely be considered for the job. As president of MSNBC for the last 4 and a half years he has given the network an identity and boosted ratings, consistently topping CNN — a network his close friend Jeff Zucker now runs. A front office and internal concern would be the progressive programming on the network, often not in line with NBC News standards. Mark Hoffman, president of CNBC, cannot be ruled out. Nor can Capus’ deputy, Antoine Sanfuentes, (above, left) who will run day-to-day in the interim.

External candidates are also plentiful…

James Goldston, a top deputy to ABC News president Ben Sherwood (but we’re told a longterm ABC contract keeps Goldston right where he is); David Westin, Sherwood’s predecessor at ABC, and known to the new NBCU suits Fili-Krushel and Steve Burke; Jonathan Wald, a former CNBC executive now running “Piers Morgan Tonight” and the son of one-time NBC News president Richard Wald. Jim Bell, the former longtime “Today” show EP now with NBC Sports. Former CNN and MSNBC president Rick Kaplan.

Who’d we miss?

All three network news divisions have now seen top leadership changes in the last two years. The ABC and CBS changes were markedly different. Westin departed ABC in the Fall of 2010, and after a several month search, Sherwood was named ABC News president in December. In February, 2011, CBS News president Sean McManus left the news division, to focus solely on CBS Sports. At the same time, it was announced that Jeff Fager would be chairman and David Rhodes president of CBS News.

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