Comcast Taps Neil Smit as President of Cable Ops

Comcast Corporation has poached a rival cable chief to lead its MSO business, a move that frees chief operating officer Steve Burke to oversee NBC Universal.

Neil Smit, who has served as CEO and director of Charter Communications since 2005, has been named president of Comcast Cable Communications, where he’ll be responsible for all business aspects of the company’s cable operations. Smit will remain with Charter through Feb. 28.

Prior to joining Charter, Smit was president of AOL’s Access Business. He also served as AOL’s executive vp, member services, and was chief operating officer of MapQuest.

Smit joins Comcast as the cable giant awaits regulatory approval of its deal to acquire a controlling stake in NBC Universal. Under the proposed structure that would be put into place upon Comcast’s assumption of the NBC Universal assets, current NBCU chief executive Jeff Zucker would led the joint venture’s cable networks, reporting to Burke.

“We are very pleased to welcome Neil to Comcast. He will be the perfect complement to our already strong management team,” Burke said, by way of announcing the hire. “We know Neil well, and his broad management experience in the cable and Internet industries will enable him to hit the ground running.”

Based in Philadelphia, Smit will report directly to Burke.

During the transition, Charter chief operating officer Mike Lovett will fill in as interim president and CEO. Charter’s board has begun searching for a new chief executive, and is considering internal and external candidates.