NBC U Names Digital Defender

Deborah Reif, a 30-year General Electric Co. veteran and most recently executive vice president of financial structuring at NBC Universal, has been named to the new post of president, NBC Universal digital media, reporting to Bob Wright.

The move frees Brandon Burgess, who had been focusing on digital media, to concentrate on growing the company's international business. Both Burgess and Reif report to NBC Universal Chairman Bob Wright.

The Reif job is a critical one for the company. She will oversee the delivery of NBC U content over digital platforms, including broadband and wireless efforts, and will also spearhead efforts on digital content protection.

Wright has labeled the protection of digital intellectual property one of the company's, and indeed the world's, top priorities.

Reif will work with NBC U EVP and General Counsel Rick Cotton on the content protection issue.

As if to put an exclamation point on the issue, Cotton released a statement Wednesday supporting President George W. Bush's  signing of the Family Entertainment and Copyright Act, which provides some copyright protection for digital content, including penalties for pirating movies and other protections against computer distribution of pre-released content (say, a TV pilot).

"The theft of intellectual property costs American companies $250 billion a year and hundreds of thousands of jobs across a wide spectrum of industries," said Cotton.  "This law provides critical new deterrents to recording movies illegally by elevating this crime to a federal felony, and it increases the penalty for the illegal uploading of movies.  We hope Congress and our Courts continue to recognize the enormous economic and social benefits of protecting intellectual property."

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.