Broadcasting Board Names Ex-Scripps Networks Chief as CEO
John Lansing assumes post empty since March departure of Andrew Lack.
The Broadcasting Board of Governors, whose staffers and board have been planning for years for an effective CEO, on Monday named former Scripps Networks president John Lansing to the post.
The newly created CEO slot had been vacant since March, when veteran TV executive Andrew Lack bailed after just six weeks for a job at NBC News.
"John is a proven executive and a remarkable, transformative leader in multiplatform content strategies, development and distribution," said BBG Chairman Jeff Shell. "With his journalistic sensibilities and success in leading media companies through periods of challenges and growth, John is the ideal person to lead the BBG as we accelerate efforts to shape a global, world-leading media organization that is up to the challenges of the 21st century."
Lansing, who starts in September with the title of chief executive officer and director, logged nine years heading Scripps Networks, which produces unique content across media platforms that include television, digital, mobile and publishing, the BBG said in a statement. He oversaw a $2.5 billion division of Scripps Networks Interactive, including six cable networks - Food Network, HGTV, Travel Channel, DIY, Cooking Channel and Great American Country—as well as a $100 million digital division. A recognized photo-journalist, Lansing previously was senior vice president for television in the broadcasting division of the E.W. Scripps Company, which owns 10 network-affiliated TV stations.
At BBG, he will oversee the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio and TV Martí, Radio Free Asia, and Middle East Broadcasting Networks. He arrives at a time of recent management tensions and a proposal in Congress to reform the overseas news agency to better align it with U.S. policy and diplomacy.
"From eastern Ukraine to China to ISIL and Iran, the programming of the BBG is the most important, and in many cases, the only voice of honest and open journalism,” Shell said. “John also understands that conveying and critically assessing official U.S. policy is a key component of BBG's mission. American leadership in the world depends in part on international audiences knowing where the United States stands with respect to their countries and the issues that affect them."
In his own statement, Lansing said, “As one of the world's largest media enterprises, the BBG provides balanced, reliable and authoritative news in the face of partisan media and heavy propaganda from repressive nations and extremist groups. I am honored to enter into public service and to join a team of world-class journalists and media professionals who are dedicated to expanding freedom of information and expression worldwide.”
Ted Lipien, the frequent blogpost critic of the BBG who broke the story of Lansing’s selection last week, told Government Executive that Lansing “faces a truly monumental challenge of not just managing but transforming an ailing agency, hiring new managers, carrying out structural reforms and leading a strategic redirection. He will need full support from the administration, the Congress and American taxpayers who pay for what should be America's best tool in peacefully countering hostile propaganda with accurate and objective news and alternative opinions in support of freedom and human rights.”