More Comcast/NBCU Coverage
Updated at 8:20 p.m. ET
Jeff Gaspin will step down as head of NBC Universal's TV
group following the completion of the deal for Comcast to take over NBCU.
Gaspin confirmed his exit, which has been speculated in recent days, in a memo
to staff Monday afternoon obtained by B&C.
Gaspin wrote to the staff saying he would be leaving
"a short time after the merger." He is the second top-ranking NBCU exec
to announce he'll be leaving once the merger goes through, following his
current boss and NBCU topper Jeff Zucker. NBCU's
chief communications exec Allison Gollust also is leaving. Gaspin said
he's had "many good conversations" about his role with the
organization going forward with Comcast Corp. COO Steve Burke, who will run the
new NBCU. But ultimately the execs did not agree on an arrangement that worked
for them both. Additional decisions about executive structure are being
hammered out, but Comcast officials declined to say when they would make their
plans known. In his note, Gaspin acknowledged the media reports, saying,
"Even though there has been much speculation in the press I wanted you to
hear directly from me."
"Under the current structure, all of the television
entertainment assets including cable, broadcast, and distribution report to
me," wrote Gaspin, who was promoted to Chairman, NBC Universal Television
Entertainment in July 2009. "As is his prerogative, Steve has determined
that he wants to move in a different direction and given the scope of my
current responsibilities, we could not agree on an appropriate role for me in
the new company."
Burke issued a statement Monday saying: "I want to
thank Jeff for his many significant contributions to NBCU and for his
professionalism throughout the integration process."
Gaspin has been credited with contributing a steady hand in tumultuous times at the TV entertainment group after being named chairman. He took ownership of the programming decisions to cut the 10 p.m. experiment with Jay Leno on NBC, sending Leno back to The Tonight Show and Conan O'Brien packing; he responded with calm, candid answers to a barrage of questions about the decisions from the press earlier this year at the January TV Critics Association press tour.
"I have spent a combined 19 years at NBC Universal and
have had numerous positions in finance, news, cable, and broadcast,"
Gaspin said in his staff memo. "While we have had our challenges on the
entertainment broadcast side, I am proud of the progress we have made and the
tremendous success of our outstanding cable assets, our strong distribution
divisions and our market-leading digital innovation. It's with great
pride and appreciation I was able to participate in many of these successful ventures."
"I leave NBC Universal with an obvious sense of
sadness and loss, but I'll be forever grateful for my relationships with my
colleagues and those who gave me a chance to participate in the success of this
great company," his memo continued. "It's been an
exhilarating ride - and I thank you for sharing it with me."
Prior to his current post, Gaspin was President & COO,
NBC Universal Television Group since July 2007. He was also involved in NBC
Universal's early efforts to create Hulu.com, according to his company bio.
Before his run at NBC, where his various roles included
running Bravo, Gaspin made a splash as head of programming at VH1, where he
created "Behind the Music."