Despite the problems at NBC, Jeff Zucker is getting a bigger job at NBC Universal, becoming CEO of a reorganized TV group, NBC Universal Television, a move meant to address its prime time woes.
Zucker had previously been president of NBC Universal Television Group, responsible for broadcast and cable networks, the company's TV studio, and first-run syndication.
Randy Falco, most recently president of NBC Universal Television Networks Group, is now president and Chief Operating Officer for NBC Universal Television.
The new group will include divisions that had been run in separate units: television stations, operations, ad sales and distribution.
NBC U Chairman and General Electrics Vice Chairman Bob Wright said the reorganization will make the TV properties run more efficiently. “It is really about trying to get as much heft and weight on all of our TV products,” Wright said Thursday afternoon on a conference call with reporters.
Falco, who had reported directly to NBC U Chairman and General Electric Vice Chairman Bob Wright and was in charge of sales, broadcast-affiliate relations, cable distribution, production operations, research, information technology, and Spanish-language network Telemundo, will now report to Zucker but have more turf, most notably NBC's owned-and-operated TV stations.
Jay Ireland, president of NBC Universal Television Stations, had reported to Wright but will now report to Falco. The Telemundo TV stations, previously in Ireland’s group, will be aligned with the Telemundo network, which had been under Falco.
The Universal movie studio and theme parks, under Ron Meyer, are not impacted by the changes.
Making a return to NBC U is Beth Comstock, once the network’s top public-relations executive.
Comstock moved up to NBC U parent General Electric, where she was most recently chief marketing officer. She will now serve in a newly created post, president, NBC U digital media and market development, reporting to Wright. NBC’s in-house ad and promo department, the NBC Agency, will be in the group, as well as the research department and strategic marketing.
Zucker and Falco said the new structure formalizes what has been in effect since NBC acquired Vivendi Universal’s entertainment assets almost 18 months ago, when both assumed their most recent positions. The executives said their day-to-day duties would not change significantly.
But by streamlining NBC U, Zucker said, it will be more nimble in a fast-changing media environment.
For example, the network’s recent content deals with DirecTV and Apple’s iTunes were handled by separate divisions. NBC Universal Cable President David Zaslav handled NBC’s supplying of on-demand programming to DirecTV, but the network’s iTunes deal was engineered by Frederick Huntsberry, president, NBC Universal Television Distribution & Universal Pictures Group International Operations. “They will be in one organization now,” says Zucker. Both Zaslav and Huntsberry will now report to Falco.
Comcast’s digital media and marketing unit will also play an integral role in future new-media deals, which all the NBC U execs emphasized as being a main focus.
The executives side-stepped questions on Katie Couric’s future (“I don’t think there will be anything to say on Katie for several months,” Zucker said) and Wright’s retirement and succession, but Wright did address NBC’s prime time woes. “We don’t have any patience at all,” he said. “This organizational change is designed to accelerate the pace of recovery.”