Bridget Baker, president of TV Network Distribution for NBCUniversal,… (Gary Friedman / Los Angeles…)
Bridget Baker, one of NBCUniversal's longest serving and most colorful executives, is leaving the company after 24 years.
Baker joined NBC in 1988 as part of a tiny team that launched CNBC, with former Chief Executive Bob Wright. Over the next two decades, Baker scaled the company's executive ladder by traversing the country, meeting with small and large cable and satellite TV operators to secure carriage for NBC's growing stable of cable channels.
Despite a personality that struck some as ditzy — a Times profile once described her as "Lucille Ball in an Hermes scarf" — Baker proved to be a shrewd negotiator.
"Bridget transformed NBCUniversal’s cable portfolio from CNBC into the formidable multi-billion dollar, multi-platform empire it is today," her boss, Matt Bond, said in an email Monday to NBCUniversal employees to announce her departure.
Baker, who was president of TV Networks distribution, became the face of NBCUniversal to most cable and satellite TV operators. The executive, who was not immediately available for comment, will leave at the end of November.
The Alaska native, who graduated from Pitzer College in California and started her career as a legislative assistant to the late Sen. Ted Stevens, was passed over for the top distribution job at NBCUniversal when Comcast Corp. took control of the media giant in January 2011.
Instead, NBCUniversal Chief Executive Steve Burke, a longtime Comcast executive, installed Bond to the top job of executive vice president, content distribution.
Baker's departure leaves just a handful of holdover NBCUniversal executives in the upper echelons of the Comcast regime.
On Friday, the company announced the exit of Marianne Gambelli, the high-profile head of advertising sales for the NBC broadcast network.
Gambelli joined NBC in 1989 as an account executive. She too worked her way up the ranks during the era of General Electric Co. ownership.
But last month, Burke bypassed Gambelli by promoting Linda Yaccarino, a former Turner Broadcasting executive who joined NBCUniveral last year. Yaccarino had been in charge of cable network and digital sales before accepting the larger position as president of advertising sales for the entire company.
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