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Exclusive: Comcast, NBCU Net Affiliate Units Merging

Comcast and NBC Universal programming-network distribution teams are combining in NBCU's Englewood Cliffs, N.J., base, phasing jobs out of Comcast Center in Philadelphia, Multichannel News has learned.

This follows the Jan. 28 completion of Comcast's taking control of the NBC Universal joint venture, which will absorb Comcast-owned programming services including E!, Style, Sprout, Versus and various regional sports networks into NBCU's camp, which includes USA Network, Bravo, Syfy and Oxygen. Both sets of networks have their own distribution teams, selling and marketing to programming affiliates.

Earlier this week, the joint venture named the leaders for its sports networks, with NBC Sports executives mostly in ascendance under NBC Sports Group chairman Dick Ebersol. The over-arching executive lineup was announced in November, before the merger closed.

The New Jersey relocation is being timed for after Labor Day, with Comcast employees in Philadelphia deciding whether to try for a job with NBCU in New Jersey or take a buyout, informed people said.

An estimated 40 to 50 network-distribution jobs are involved on each of the Comcast networks and NBCU networks sides.

It is expected NBCU in Englewood Cliffs will absorb at least some of the Comcast networks' staff but that the eventual distribution team will have a smaller head count than the combined ones have now.

One name sources have said is departing is Brad Fox, executive vice president of affiliate sales and marketing at the Comcast networks. He was told Monday his job was being eliminated, two people with direct knowledge said. One of those people said the decision might be reversed, though. Fox has been with Comcast for more than 20 years. Fox declined to comment on Friday.

Other senior executives on the Comcast Networks' distribution side include VPs Mark O'Connell, Garrett Smith and Todd Brown.

Bridget Baker, TV Networks distribution president for NBC Universal, will stay in Burbank, Calif., with a "lean" team, a source close to NBCU said.

Sales and marketing overall now comes under NBCU executive vice president for content distribution Matt Bond, the former Comcast executive, who is based in New York.

Comcast and NBCU representatives declined to comment.