The money is flowing again into Big Media. Just about every media CEO who recently spoke to Wall Street analysts about this year’s 1st Quarter earnings said that ad sales are up and consumers are spending. “Viacom …
Sure, every Oscar weekend there are the Friday night agency parties — Ari Emanuel’s WME fete, and Jim Berkus” UTA party for the Coen Brothers, and Bryan Lourd’s CAA …
It was a memo like any other released by a CEO of a public company on the day the company’s quarterly earnings report is out. But this morning’s message by outgoing NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker about the company’s …
UPDATE: In a 4-1 vote, the FCC has approved Comcast’s merger with NBC Universal. Democrat commissioner Michael Copps cast the lone dissenting opinion, saying that ”it confers too much power in one company’s hands.” The deal should close by the end of January.
Of course, there are plenty of conditions set forth …
The organizers of the Saban Free Clinic’s Annual Dinner Gala must have been scrambling today to update all the materials for the Monday event with the new title for the night’s top honoree, Robert Greenblatt, who today was named chairman of NBC Entertainment as part of the post-merger management structure of NBC Universal unveiled by the company’s incoming CEO Steve Burke.
Greenblatt, who will oversee the network and sister studio UMS, won’t be conducting any business, including meeting with his staff or talking to agents, until the merger is approved, something sources suggest may happen in mid-January. By then, the broadcast networks will be in the thick of picking up drama pilots, so Greenblatt would have to jump right in. He is expected to begin familiarizing himself with NBC’s development right away and will probably read pilot scripts as they come in to be able to start making greenlight decisions on Day 1. Drama has been a particularly vulnerable area for NBC with no new series introduced in the past couple of years lasting more than a season and a weak freshman drama class this fall. That makes the future of NBC’s head of drama Laura Lancaster uncertain. Greenblatt is still a ways away from making any personnel changes, but after he officially starts, he is expected to make some. In today’s memo, there was good news for 2 NBC veterans, Marc Graboff, chairman of NBC Entertainment and UMS, and Angela Bromstad, president of primetime entertainment. While the announcement didn’t mention their titles, leaving the door open to them changing, they were mentioned by name as reporting to Greenblatt in the new chain of command. That means that both are factoring into new Burke’s immediate plans for NBC. From then on, it will be up to Greenblatt.
Comcast Internal Memo From NBC Universal Boss Steve Burke Reveals Organizational Structure Under New Owners
NBC Universal boss Steve Burke today made the new organizational structure official for NBC broadcasting, NBC Entertainment, NBCU cable, and Universal Studios and Universal Pictures:
For nearly a year, we have worked hard to identify people from NBC Universal, Comcast and outside the two companies to form our new leadership team when the deal closes. Our goal has been to find people who have the skill sets we need to succeed and who reflect the values that will be the hallmark of NBC Universal, including teamwork, integrity, creativity and a commitment to treating people the right way.
We have also been very focused on putting in place the best possible organizational structure. To that end, we have created some new positions, changed the scope of others, and shifted some reporting assignments. We think we’ve developed a structure that organizes the company in the smartest way possible.
We are beginning our leadership announcements now because with the anticipated close of the deal nearing, we want to give everyone enough time to begin to think about the specific opportunities and challenges they will face beginning the day of the close. This is particularly true for areas that have transition work to complete before we close. While new roles won’t be effective until the deal closes, and while there will be more announcements to come, it is important that we are prepared to hit the ground running.
To that end, I am pleased to make the following initial announcements of members of the new NBC Universal senior management team:
Bonnie Hammer will become Chairman, NBC Universal Cable Entertainment and Cable Studios. USA, SyFy, E! Entertainment, G4, Chiller, Sleuth, Universal HD and UCP (Universal Cable Productions) will report to Bonnie. Neil Tiles will remain President of G4 and report to Bonnie as will a newly appointed president of E! Entertainment.
Lauren Zalaznick will become Chairman, NBC Universal Entertainment & Digital Networks and Integrated Media. Bravo, Oxygen, and iVillage will continue to report to Lauren, as will the Integrated Strategic Marketing Group, which oversees initiatives including Green Is Universal, Healthy at NBC Universal and Women at NBC Universal. Digital properties Daily Candy and
Fandango, Spanish language broadcaster Telemundo, and cable networks mun2, Style, and PBS Sprout will also report to Lauren.
COMCAST-NBCU: Ted Harbert And Bob Greenblatt To Run NBC, Pat Fili-Krushel Also Coming, Fired Jeff Zucker Weeping
2ND UPDATE: Comcast’s new NBC Universal boss Steve Burke is supposed to finalize his new organizational structure and announce it today. We’d told you previously that Ted Harbert, president and CEO of the Comcast Entertainment Group, might be getting a big new job: it’s alongside former Showtime entertainment president Bob Greenblatt, and the two men will run NBC as equals reporting to Burke. Harbert will oversee stations, affiliates, and sales in NYC while Greenblatt will run programming and possibly marketing as well in LA. These are just two of the big changes that couldn’t wait for FCC regulatory approval, not if NBC wanted to have a development season. As it is Greenblatt and Harbert may not physically take the reins at NBC until mid-January, sources tell us, which is late for this pilot season. ”It’s going to be a long, steep, uphill climb in a tough world,” one insider described to us. “At least those GE boobs will be out of the way.” Meanwhile, sources tell us that fired NBC Universal boss Jeff Zucker has been holding mini town hall meetings with company employees and in two different gatherings started crying and had to stop to re-compose himself. Yesterday was the latest breakdown. Last week, he actually closed his office door and cried.
The NBC operations job was previously discussed with chairman and CEO of Fox Networks Group Tony Vinciquerra and CBS Corp’s Nancy Tellem who we’re told “agonized over the decision and went back and forth and wound up somewhere inbetween” after talking to Burke and Greenblatt about it. Sources tell us that Tellem wanted Greenblatt to report to her, but Burke made it clear he had made a commitment that Greenblatt would have unfettered access to him. So Tellem kept pondering until Burke moved on without her in the past 10 days.
Also in the mix will be Pat Fili-Krushel, the former president of the ABC television network and most recently EVP of Administration of Time Warner Inc. She’ll be taking over NBCU’s HR, legal, and other administrative areas. In her role with Time Warner, she worked closely with the other members of Time Warner’s senior management team and its operating divisions on a variety of organizational, developmental and diversity issues. Her responsibilities included oversight of philanthropy, corporate social responsibility, corporate human resources, worldwide recruitment, employee development and growth, compensation and benefits, and security. Burke knew Fili-Krushel from his days at Disney/ABC.
Comcast Programming group president Jeff Shell will be based in London in an international post. NBC cable’s Bonnie Hammer will oversee USA, Syfy, and E!, while Lauren Zalaznick will run Bravo, Oxygen, and Style. We also hear that G4 will mostly likely go to Hammer, and Telemundo to Zalaznick. Sources tell us that today’s announcement won’t mention Angela Bromsted who may or may not survive all these changes, depending on the source, or that eventually Greenblatt may possibly bring in outsiders including Jennifer Nicholson Salke and Danielle Gelber.
8TH UPDATE: Comcast is clearing the way for its pending announcement of the new NBC Universal top executive structure. Jeff Gaspin, who had felt more and more as the odd man out in Comcast’s plans for the post-merger NBCU, just sent out a note to NBC Universal employees announcing that he will depart the company following its merger with Comcast after he and new NBCU CEO Steve Burke “could not agree on an appropriate role” for him in the new company. Gaspin had 4 years left on his contract, which was breached by the merger and Burke replacing Jeff Zucker. Gaspin was furious when a report last week claimed he was gone because it wasn’t true: in fact the two men hadn’t made that decision yet even though everyone guessed that’d be the ultimate conclusion because it’s known that Burke wants to decrease the media company’s layers of management. Gaspin has spent a combined 19 years at NBCU, most recently as chairman of NBC Universal TV Entertainment. “I want to thank Jeff for his many significant contributions to NBCU and for his professionalism throughout the integration process,” Burke said in a statement. After sending the memo, Gaspin gathered his senior executive team for an emotional meeting.
EXCLUSIVE… 6TH & 7TH UPDATE: Jeff Gaspin is flying on an NBC Universal corporate jet from NYC back to LA right now and is telling fellow passengers that a report he is leaving the company is “not accurate”. As we’ve been saying all along, there are a lot of moving parts to this NBCU organizational restructure, and a lot hasn’t been pinned down yet. Gaspin, who is NBCU Television Group President/COO, falls into that category. We’ve learned that he hasn’t had a “definitive conversation” with Comcast about his future yet. And the fact is that, as of today, his future has not been decided. “It may turn out to be true that he leaves. And he’s preparing for it. But it’s not true right now,” an insider just told us.
EXCLUSIVE… 5TH UPDATE: We’ve confirmed that onetime CBS bigwig and now consultant Nancy Tellem has indeed been in formal talks with Comcast brass about taking a top job at NBC alongside Robert Greenblatt. The idea was that he would be in charge of creative, and she would fill a parallel NYC-based network president-type job. Both would report to new NBC Universal CEO Steve Burke. As we reported Comcast hopes to announce the new NBC Universal organizational structure — one which now may or may not include Jeff Gaspin who got on a plane Monday for NYC Monday to meet with Comcast brass. About Tellem, “Comcast is talking to her. Nothing has been decided yet though because there are still ongoing issues. But people are trying to work through those issues,” one insider told us. ”She wants to do it. She just has to make sure the job is right.” Tellem was among half a dozen top-level broadcast executives (including Fox Network Group Chairman/CEO Tony Vinciquerra) approached by Burke some months ago after the Comcast/NBC deal was announced. Tellem was most recently boss of the bulk of CBS Inc’s entertainment operations until she stepped down in December 2009 to become Senior Advisor To The CEO.
The federal regulatory body wants more info from Comcast and NBC Universal like details on carriage deals, online distribution, rates, and so on while it reviews the planned merger. The FCC made another follow-up request on Monday in letters to both companies and demanded compliance in the form of written and electronic compliance by October 18th. Broadcasting & Cable was first with the details. Requests like this that makes insiders and outsiders think the merger approval may extend beyond the end of 2010. And yet, publicly and privately, Comcast’s Steve Burke last week began to take control of NBCU as its new CEO, replacing Jeff Zucker whom he fired. The FCC is requesting the following info based on its documents: