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Comcast announces leadership team for NBC Universal

Steve Burke, the cable giant's No. 2 man who will become CEO of NBC Universal after the takeover, creates a layered management structure with seven people holding the title of chairman and 10 reporting directly to him.

November 19, 2010|By Meg James, Los Angeles Times

Comcast Corp. unveiled its new management lineup for NBC Universal on Thursday, ending months of anticipation and behind-the-scenes jockeying.

Although the new executive team is ready, the two companies now must wait for federal regulators to approve the Philadelphia cable company's takeover of NBC Universal. The consent of the U.S. Justice Department and Federal Communications Commission is expected next month or early next year.

Comcast Chief Operating Officer Steve Burke, who will replace Jeff Zucker as NBC Universal chief executive when the deal closes, created a layered structure with seven executives holding the title of chairman. At least 10 executives will report directly to Burke, ensuring that he will be deeply involved in key decisions.

"For nearly a year, we have worked hard to identify people from NBC Universal, Comcast and outside the two companies to form our new leadership team," Burke said in a note to employees. "Our goal has been to find people who have the skill sets we need to succeed and who reflect the values that will be the hallmark of NBC Universal, including teamwork, integrity, creativity and a commitment to treating people the right way."

All but two of the executives come from the ranks of NBC Universal or Comcast. Former Showtime President Bob Greenblatt will become chairman of NBC Entertainment, responsible for prime-time and late-night programming, business affairs, West Coast research, marketing, public relations, scheduling and NBC's television production studio.

Ted Harbert, who runs Comcast's Los Angeles-based cable channels, will step into the freshly minted role of chairman of NBC Broadcasting. Harbert will manage advertising sales, affiliate relations, research, domestic television syndication and NBC-owned television stations, including KNBC Channel 4 in L.A.

Burke faced a challenge in keeping two senior cable TV executives, Bonnie Hammer and Lauren Zalaznick, in the fold. At a time when bloggers speculated that the two were being pitted against each other, Burke quietly was carving out a huge portfolio for each to oversee.

Hammer, who has been running the company's most profitable channels, USA and Syfy, and the cable production studio, will take on five additional cable properties: Comcast's E! and G4 channels, Chiller, Sleuth and Universal HD. Her title will be chairman of NBC Universal Cable Entertainment and Cable Studios.

Zalaznick will become chairman of NBC Universal Entertainment and Digital Networks. She will continue to guide Bravo, Oxygen and website iVillage and gain oversight of Comcast's Style, PBS Sprout and digital properties Daily Candy and Fandango. In a surprise move, Zalaznick will be responsible for Spanish-language Telemundo network and the bilingual mun2 channel.

Longtime NBC sports executive Dick Ebersol will become chairman of the NBC Sports Group, responsible for NBC Sports, the Golf Channel, Versus and the Comcast Regional Sports Networks.

On the movie and theme park side, Ron Meyer will retain his turf as chief operating officer of Universal Studios. Adam Fogelson also will keep his role as chairman of Universal Pictures.

Steve Capus will remain president of NBC News and MSNBC, while Mark Hoffman will stay on as CNBC president. Former KNBC General Manager Paula Madison will retain her position as the head of companywide diversity efforts.

In addition to Zucker, three other NBC executives found themselves eliminated from the organization: television Chairman Jeff Gaspin, communications head Allison Gollust and advertising sales chief Mike Pilot.

meg.james@latimes.com

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