It was the worst-kept secret in the history of worst-kept secrets, but after weeks of leaks and speculation, Comcast at long last announced the new executive lineup at NBC Universal.
The cable giant detailed the roster in a memo from Comcast chief operating office and incoming NBCU CEO Steve Burke. Given the volume of leaks pouring out of NBCU, there were few (if any surprises), though a few new positions were introduced.
As Mediaweek previously reported, all but a handful of the bold-faced names at NBCU will retain their posts. (CEO Jeff Zucker in September announced he would leave after the deal closes, while NBCU entertainment president Jeff Gaspin was shown the door earlier this week.)
Moving to the top of the broadcast heap is ex-Showtime mastermind Bob Greenblatt, who will assume the role of chairman, NBC Entertainment. In his new role, Greenblatt will oversee NBC’s prime-time and late-night programming, as well as business affairs, West Coast research, marketing, public relations, scheduling and NBC Universal Media Studios.
Joining Greenblatt (and moving back East) is current Comcast entertainment group CEO Ted Harbert, who joins NBCU as chairman of the broadcast flagship. Harbert will keep his eye on advertising sales, affiliate relations, research, domestic syndication and the NBC station group.
On the cable side of the ledger, Bonnie Hammer will become chairman, NBC Universal Cable Entertainment and Cable Studios. In addition to her current charges, which include USA Network, SyFy, Chiller, Sleuth, Universal HD and Universal Cable Productions, Hammer will add oversight of Comcast’s E! and G4. Neil Tiles will remain president of G4, reporting to Hammer, as will an as-yet unidentified new E! topper.
Lauren Zalaznick will become chairman, NBC Universal Entertainment & Digital Networks and Integrated Media. Bravo, Oxygen and iVillage will continue to report to Zalaznick, as will the Integrated Strategic Marketing Group, which includes Green Is Universal, Healthy at NBC Universal and Women at NBC Universal. Zalaznick will also manage the digital properties Daily Candy and Fandango, as well as the Spanish-language network Telemundo; moreover, she’ll add cable nets mun2, Style and PBS Sprout to her roster.
Telemundo will continue to be led by president Don Browne and COO Jackie Hernandez, while Salaam Coleman Smith will stay on to lead Style.
In the early going, ad sales will take on a bifurcated structure, with Marianne Gambelli taking on the broadcast duties as the new president of NBC Network Advertising Sales and Dave Cassaro assuming oversight of all cable network and digital sales. Along with prime time, Gambelli will be responsible for news and sports ad sales.
Gambelli will report to Harbert, while cable ad sales president Cassaro will report to Hammer and Zalaznick. Steve Mandala, Peter Naylor and Mike Rodriguez will remain, reporting to Cassaro.
NBCU president of sales and marketing Mike Pilot will leave upon completion of the acquisition, which could close as soon as late December. In his memo to staffers, Burke addressed the departure of Gaspin and Pilot by noting, “These transitions are often difficult, and at times, people who have made great contributions end up leaving.”
Pilot took the reins at the NBCU sales unit in 2006, after being shifted from his previous post as chief executive of the equipment finance group at GE.
Among those staying on at 30 Rock are: NBC News/MSNBC president Steve Capus, CNBC president Mark Hoffman and NBC Sports chairman Dick Ebersol. The veteran deal maker will add the Golf Channel, Versus and the Comcast Regional Sports Networks to his plate; Jon Litner (RSNs), Jamie Davis (Versus) and Earl Marshall (Golf) will report to Ebersol.
Jeff Shell will move to London to become chairman of NBC Universal International.
“The team described above will not begin to operate the company until after the transaction closes, which will occur following regulatory approval,” Burke said. “Between now and then, each business will continue to be managed by its respective leadership team, and NBC Universal will continue to be led by Jeff Zucker, whose talent, hard work and commitment have been instrumental in building NBC Universal into the company it is today.”
Burke said employees could expect further announcements before the $13.8 billion transaction is wrapped up. He signed off with a brief forward-looking statement: “I hope you are as excited as I am by the prospect of what we can accomplish together in the future.”
Zucker earlier today said that NBCU and Comcast are now in the final stages of the regulatory review, adding that issues having to do with online video were of paramount concern to Washington lawmakers.