In May, television networks will begin a process of negotiations over the price of commercial airtime for next season's shows -- a process which kicks off the beginning of "upfronts," meaning that fall offerings need to be pretty much finalized. For NBC, that means a decision about Brian Williams' fate is pending and it doesn't look so good for the former "Nightly News" anchor.
"From a ratings point of view, there is no pressure [to bring him back]," said Catherine Warburton, the chief investment officer at ad-buying company Assembly in an interview with the Washington Post. "Lester Holt has been doing well. So the advertisers are happy... My personal opinion is, I'd be wary of bringing [him] back."
In her opinion, Williams' war story fabrications were too much of a blow to his credibility to go back to the news network. "It doesn't mean he doesn't have a future," she continued. "It's just not necessarily in the area of hard news."
At the Washington Post, Paul Farhi considers another element to the Williams decision-- the anchor's relationship with NBC News head Andrew Lack as well as Tom Brokaw:
Lack and Williams have a long professional association and relationship. During his first run as chairman of NBC News, from 1993 to 2001, Lack made Williams the lead anchor on NBC’s cable news start-up, MSNBC, setting Williams on the path to succeeding Tom Brokaw as “Nightly News” anchor when Brokaw retired in 2004.
Brokaw is another wild card. He reportedly has a chilly relationship with Williams and might not be enthusiastic about supporting his return. In his first extended remarks about Williams, Brokaw said Monday night that he “had a cordial relationship” with Williams and that the controversy surrounding him was “very, very serious.”
"NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams" destroyed ratings competition, coming in as the most-watched news program for 288 consecutive weeks until his suspension. That lead was snatched by ABC's "World News Tonight" last month.
"There is a process underway," Brokaw said of an internal investigation surrounding Williams' comments. "And the important thing is that the process is very carefully constructed, and we owe it to everybody -- including Brian and his family and certainly the people who work at NBC News who risk their lives everyday, and to the integrity of what NBC News has stood for all these years -- to let the process play out, to hear what the final conclusions are and then deal with it at that point."