Who's Who at NBC Universal
By Staff -- Broadcasting & Cable, 5/16/2004 8:00:00 PM
Now that General Electric has finally secured control of Universal, NBC Universal Chairman Bob Wright has assembled his team. The mandate: Turn a conglomerate of TV stations, cable networks, theme parks, and a studio into a well-oiled machine. Here's what's happening with NBC's and Universal's key players.
President, NBC Universal Television Group
WHAT HE WINS: Pretty much everything.
CHALLENGE: Getting it all to run smoothly. Running multiple networks, a TV studio, and three news operations would be a lot on anyone's plate.
Former chairman, Universal Television Group
WHAT HE WINS: An exit pass for this one-time BBC chief, who shepherded Vivendi's VUE through endless ownership turmoil.
CHALLENGE: Finding another high-profile gig that keeps this British fan of American culture in the United States.
President, NBC Universal Television Networks Group
WHAT HE WINS: A spot on the short list to succeed Wright. A key member of the integration team, Falco solidifies his position as a top Wright lieutenant.
CHALLENGE: Working with the sales team to maximize synergies and send revenues to record levels.
President, NBC Universal Cable
WHAT HE WINS: Big new cable brands to sell to operators. After pushing a load of thinly viewed cable networks for years (MSNBC, Bravo, etc.), he finally gets control over USA and Sci Fi's distribution. Hidden score: combining VOD rights to all Universal movies and TV products with the cable networks. That's big leverage over operators.
CHALLENGE: One priority is bigger fees for USA and the struggling news networks at a time when operators are screaming about costs.
President, NBC Universal Cable Entertainment & Cross-Platform Strategy
Executive vice president, NBC Alternative Series and Long-Form
WHAT HE WINS: Reality is a big priority at NBC, and the top brass wants Gaspin, who snagged Apprentice, to lead those efforts. As a reward for sprucing up Bravo, he gets oversight for programming the new cable group, too.
CHALLENGE: Tending to both reality TV and the new cable group are big jobs, and Gaspin may be spread too thin.
President, NBC Entertainment
WHAT HE WINS: NBC, the center of the new company's universe.
CHALLENGE: Developing NBC's next crop of scripted hits, while keeping the broadcast network highly profitable and No. 1 in all dayparts in adults 18-49, as Zucker has managed to do for the past three years.
Co-president, NBC Universal Television Studio
WHAT HE WINS: A one-year contract.
CHALLENGE: Convincing NBC that he's the man to run its new studio long-term. His potential replacement, Angela Bromstead, will be working side by side with him as co-president.
President and COO, Universal Studios
WHAT HE WINS: His job. While NBC axed most senior managers of VUE's TV properties, it's keeping Meyer at the top of Universal Studios, the new property NBC understands the least.
CHALLENGE:Persuading tight-fisted, risk-averse General Electric to make big enough bets on movies in unpredictable Hollywood.
President, NBC Universal Sales & Marketing
WHAT HE WINS: TV's first combined broadcast/ cable ad-sales shop, which should generate $5.5 billion in revenue this year.
CHALLENGE: Keeping advertisers from squeezing NBC for cable discounts to buy low-rated broadcast spots and closing cable's steep 50% CPM discount to broadcast ad prices.
President, USA Network and Sci Fi Channel
WHAT SHE WINS: After building Sci Fi Channel into a top-10 cable network, Hammer will guide both her channel and general-entertainment prize USA Network.
CHALLENGE: Hammer likes to be hands-on. Now she'll have to adapt to a broader management role and report to cable networks chief Jeff Gaspin.
President of Bravo and Trio
WHAT SHE WINS: After molding pop-culture diginet Trio into a critical darling, Zalaznick gets a bigger property: Bravo.
CHALLENGE:Queer Eye for the Straight Guy was splendid for Bravo, but the channel needs to follow up with more. She'll have to persuade NBC Universal not to shutter Trio.
President, NBC Universal Domestic Sales & Distribution
WHAT HE WINS: The new company's syndication and distribution division—a very lucrative, if ignored, area of the company. Although not the first choice for the position, Wallach is getting his shot.
CHALLENGE: He inherits the launch of The Jane PauleyShow, an expensive and risky proposition. If it's a failure, he can blame the previous administration. But then there's next year.
Former president, NBC Enterprises
WHAT HE WINS: A big job at Fox as president of Fox Television Network, and a move up from syndication to network television.
CHALLENGE: Proving he can make the transition from the syndication business to network business, and in the meantime beat his old bosses at their game.
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