NBC News is the news division of the American broadcast television network NBC. The division operates under NBCUniversal News Group, a division of NBCUniversal, which is, in turn, a subsidiary of Comcast. The news division’s various operations report to the president of NBC News, Noah Oppenheim. The NBCUniversal News Group also comprises MSNBC, the network’s 24-hour general news channel, business and consumer news channels CNBC and CNBC World, the Spanish language Noticias Telemundo and United Kingdom-based Sky News.
NBC News aired the first, regularly scheduled news program in American broadcast television history on February 21, 1940. The group’s broadcasts are produced and aired from 30 Rockefeller Center, NBC’s headquarters in New York City.
The division presides over America’s number-one-rated newscast, NBC Nightly News, and the longest-running television series in American history, Meet The Press, the Sunday morning program of newsmakers interviews. NBC News also offers 70 years of rare historic footage from the NBCUniversal Archives online.
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History of NBC News
The first regularly scheduled American television newscast in history was made by NBC News on February 21, 1940, anchored by Lowell Thomas (1892-1981), and airing weeknights at 6:45 p.m. It was simply Lowell Thomas in front of a television camera while doing his NBC network radio broadcast, the television simulcast seen only in New York. In June 1940, NBC, through its flagship station in New York City, W2XBS (renamed commercial WNBT in 1941, now WNBC) operating on channel one, televised 30¼ hours of coverage of the Republican National Convention live and direct from Philadelphia. The station used a series of relays from Philadelphia to New York and on to upper New York State, for rebroadcast on W2XB in Schenectady (now WRGB), making this among the first “network” programs of NBC Television. Due to wartime and technical restrictions, there were no live telecasts of the 1944 conventions, although films of the events were reportedly shown over WNBT the next day.
About this time, there were irregularly scheduled, quasi-network newscasts originating from NBC’s WNBT in New York City, (WNBC), and reportedly fed to WPTZ (now KYW-TV) in Philadelphia and WRGB in Schenectady, NY. Such as, Esso sponsored news features a well as The War As It Happens in the final days of World War II, another irregularly scheduled NBC television newsreel program which was also seen in New York, Philadelphia and Schenectady on the relatively few (roughly 5000) television sets which existed at the time. After the war, NBC Television Newsreel aired filmed news highlights with narration. Later in 1948, when sponsored by Camel Cigarettes, NBC Television Newsreel was renamed Camel Newsreel Theatre and then, when John Cameron Swayze was added as an on-camera anchor in 1949, the program was renamed Camel News Caravan.
In 1948, NBC teamed up with Life magazine to provide election night coverage of President Harry S. Truman‘s surprising victory over New York governor Thomas E. Dewey. The television audience was small, but NBC’s share in New York was double that of any other outlet. The following year, the Camel News Caravan, anchored by John Cameron Swayze, debuted on NBC. Lacking the graphics and technology of later years, it nonetheless contained many of the elements of modern newscasts. NBC hired its own film crews and in the program’s early years, it dominated CBS’s competing program, which did not hire its own film crews until 1953. (by contrast, CBS spent lavishly on Edward R. Murrow‘s weekly series, See It Now). In 1950, David Brinkley began serving as the program’s Washington correspondent, but attracted little attention outside the network until paired with Chet Huntley in 1956. In 1955, the Camel News Caravan fell behind CBS‘s Douglas Edwards with the News, and Swayze lost the already tepid support of NBC executives. The following year, NBC replaced the program with the Huntley-Brinkley Report.
Beginning in 1951, NBC News was managed by Director of News Bill McAndrew, who reported to Vice President of News and Public Affairs J. Davidson Taylor.