Deborah Turness has been named CEO of BBC News and Current Affairs. The ITN chief executive officer is replacing Fran Unsworth, who is retiring this month.
In her new role, Turness will be responsible for a team of about 6,000 people. BBC News, a highly respected journalism organization, broadcasts to 456 million people around the world in more than 40 languages.
Turness, who will be paid £400k annually (or about $542,000 in today’s conversion to USD), is also being nominated to join the BBC board of directors.
Turness has only been CEO of UK-based television production company ITN since April. There, she led the organization’s post-Covid strategy for growth in its three major business areas: newsrooms, long-form production and commercial/branded content.
Before the ITN role, Turness became the first president of NBC News International, the global arm of American news network NBC News, in 2017.
There were actually a few firsts during (and before) her NBC News tenure, which began in 2013. There, Turness was the first woman in U.S. history to be president of a network news division. Prior to joining NBC News, Deborah was editor of ITV News where she was their first female editor and the youngest ever editor of ITV News. She was appointed as ITV News deputy editor in 2002 and then made editor in 2004.
“I’m delighted Deborah Turness is joining the BBC as our CEO for BBC News and Current Affairs. Deborah brings a wealth of experience, insight, first-class editorial judgement, and a strong track record of delivery,” Tim Davie, the BBC director-general, said in a statement on Thursday. “She is a passionate advocate for the power of impartial journalism and a great believer in the BBC and the role we play, in the UK and globally. She will do a brilliant job of leading our news and current affairs as we deliver on the BBC’s public service mission in the digital age.”
“In the UK and around the world there has never been a greater need for the BBC’s powerful brand of impartial, trusted journalism,” Turness added. “It is a great privilege to be asked to lead and grow BBC News at a time of accelerated digital growth and innovation, when its content is reaching more global consumers on more platforms than ever before.”