Comcast Taps Post-Merger NBCU Team

In a long-awaited moved that
still struck some as rushed, Comcast has unveiled
a new executive team that will run NBC
Universal when its union with the cable operator
gains governmental approval.

Comcast chief operating officer Steve
Burke, who will become CEO of NBCU
upon completion of the transaction, sent a
memo to company employees detailing the
members of the executive suite. The new
structure, Burke said, “created some new
positions, changed the scope of others, and
shifted some reporting assignments.” The
changes leave much of the current team intact,
but also include several newcomers
from outside the ranks of both companies,
and shift some responsibilities.

The memo prompted a statement from
Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) who wrote to
the Justice Department to look into whether
those changes violated antitrust laws.

Franken, the former comedian and Saturday
Night Live
fixture, is a serious critic
of the Comcast-NBCU joint venture. Franken
pointed out that neither the FCC nor the
Justice Department have weighed in yet.

“By announcing the future leadership of
NBC Universal well in advance of the federal
approval,” Franken wrote, “Comcast may be
seeking to indirectly exert managerial and
operational control of that company.”

The contretemps comes as both sides hope
to close the deal as soon as possible. Comcast
made it clear last week that it currently
has no role in NBCU operations or decisions.

“Transition and integration planning is
common, proper and expected in a transaction
of this type,” Comcast said
of Franken’s query. “Post-closing
management teams are
regularly announced prior to
antitrust approval.”

When the government approvals
do come, Burke’s team
will know their roles. Below are
the new and continuing positions
described by Burke:

Bonnie Hammer will become
chairman, NBC Universal
Cable Entertainment and
Cable Studios, responsible
for USA Network, Syfy, E!, G4,
Chiller, Sleuth, Universal HD
and Universal Cable Productions. G4 president
Neil Tiles and a still-to-be-named E!
president will report to her.

Lauren Zalaznick will become chairman , NBC
Universal Entertainment
& Digital Networks
and Integrated
Bravo, Oxygen,
and iVillage
will continue
to report to her,
as will the Integrated
Group. Digital
properties Daily
Candy and Fandango,
language broadcaster Telemundo, and cable
networks Mun2, Style, and PBS Sprout will
also report to Zalaznick. Donald Browne and
Salaam Coleman Smith will remain at Telemundo
and Style, respectively.

Dave Cassaro will become president,
Cable Advertising Sales, reporting to both
Hammer and Zalaznick. He will be responsible
for cable and digital sales.

Ted Harbert, currently CEO of Comcast
Entertainment Group, will join NBC Universal
as chairman, NBC Broadcasting. Harbert
will be responsible for broadcast advertising
sales, NBC affiliate relations, company-wide
research, domestic TV syndication and the
NBC station group.

Marianne Gambelli was named president,
NBC Network Advertising Sales. She
will be responsible for network
primetime, news and sports
advertising sales and will report
to Harbert.

Robert Greenblatt, formerly
Showtime’s entertainment
president, will become chairman,
NBC Entertainment, responsible
for all aspects of
primetime and late-night programming,
business affairs,
West Coast research, marketing,
public relations, scheduling
and NBC Universal Media

Steve Capus will continue
to serve as president of NBC News/MSNBC.

Mark Hoffman will remain as president
of CNBC.

Dick Ebersol will become chairman of
the NBC Sports Group, responsible for NBC
Sports, Golf Channel, Versus and the Comcast
SportsNet regional networks. (Sources said
former Turner executive Mark Lazarus will
be hired to head up the cable sports holdings.)

Ron Meyer will continue to be president
and chief operating officer, Universal Studios.

Jeff Shell, now president of Comcast Programming
Group, will move to London to
become chairman of NBC Universal International.

Lynn Calpeter will continue to be executive
vice president and chief financial officer of NBCU.

Patricia Fili-Krushel, formerly executive
vice president, administration, at Time
Warner Inc., will join NBCU as executive vice
president responsible for the Media Works,
Business Strategy, Human Resources and
Legal units.

Rick Cotton will continue to serve as executive
vice president and general counsel.

Salil Mehta will continue to serve as
president, business operations, strategy and

John Eck will remain as president of Media
Works, reporting to Fili-Krushel.

Adam Miller, formerly president of the
Abernathy MacGregor Group, will join as executive
vice president, corporate affairs.

Matt Bond, currently Comcast’s executive
vice president of acquisition, will join NBCU
as executive VP, content distribution. Bridget
Baker, NBCU president, TV Networks Distribution,
and JB Perrette, president of digital
and affiliate distribution, will report to him.

Paula Madison will continue to serve as
executive vice president, diversity.

Page Thompson, a longtime Comcast
executive and former president of Golf
Channel, will join NBCU as executive vice
president, strategic integration.