Comcast Broadens Harbert's Role

Comcast Entertainment has broadened the role of E! Networks President/CEO Ted Harbert to give him oversight of G4 in addition to his current duties at E! and Style. Harbert becomes President/CEO of Comcast Entertainment Group, a new post created by the three networks’ parent company to encompass its three West Coast cable networks.

The promotion was designed by Comcast, under president of its Programming Group Jeff Shell, to streamline costs for young male-targeting cable network G4 which now suffers “the financial burden of being a standalone business,” Harbert told B&C. Style Network, as part of E! Networks, gets back office support from E!.

“What Jeff and the folks in [Comcast headquarter city] Philadelphia were doing was looking at the growth of E! Networks and Style in the last couple of years,” he says. “When we do our budget presentations, what I think becomes very clear is we’re able to make Style a financial success since we have relations with E!.”

Harbert, at least for now, will maintain oversight of E!’s day to day operations while G4 President Neal Tiles, who joined the network in Sept. 2005, will keep his job. Salaam Coleman Smith will continue to oversee Style.

Harbert, who assumes his new duties immediately, will first focus on moving G4’s staff from their West Los Angeles offices to Wilshire, where E! and Style are based. He said it was premature to talk about whether employees will be laid off. Programming strategy for the tiny male-targeted network will, for now, remain the same.

“The main thing is to consolidate business operations,” Harbert says. “Our goal, frankly, is to be able to divert resources that are now being spent on the standalone operation on administration functions, to divert those resources to programming.”

G4 averages a little more than 100,000 total viewers in prime, according to Nielsen Media Research. The network had previously focused mainly on video game programming, but has broadened its focus under Tiles to covering all things male-focused, ordering up more originals and buying reruns of Arrested Development and Cops.

Harbert has been at E! Networks since the summer of 2004. Before that he was a producer at 20th Century Fox Television and spent 20 years at ABC, ultimately as Chairman of ABC Entertainment.