Comcast Names Greenblatt to Head NBC Entertainment

Robert Greenblatt, former programming chief at CBS Corp.’s Showtime network, will become chairman of NBC Entertainment after Comcast Corp. assumes control of the TV, film and theme-park company.

Greenblatt will be responsible for the broadcast network’s prime-time and late-night programming, business affairs, marketing, public relations, scheduling and NBC Universal Media Studios, Stephen Burke, Comcast’s chief operating officer and NBC Universal’s incoming head, said today in a memo.

The challenge for Burke, 52, and Greenblatt will be to boost ratings at NBC, which ranks last in viewers again this season behind CBS Corp., Walt Disney Co.’s ABC and News Corp.’s Fox. Investors will be looking for better programming and increasing advertising revenue, said Christopher King, an analyst at Stifel Nicolaus & Co. in Baltimore. Profit at the company’s cable channels rose 22 percent in the third quarter.

“We think we’ve developed a structure that organizes the company in the smartest way possible,” Burke said in the memo to employees. “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.”

Greenblatt replaces Jeff Gaspin, who will leave the company once the merger is complete.

Bonnie Hammer and Lauren Zalaznick will add to their existing NBC Universal jobs. Hammer, who oversees USA and Syfy networks, will take on Comcast’s E! and G4 channels. Zalaznick, who is responsible for women-oriented offerings like Bravo and Oxygen, adds the Spanish-language network Telemundo, Style and websites DailyCandy and Fandango.

Regulatory Approval

Comcast, the largest U.S. cable television company, is acquiring a 51 percent stake in NBC Universal from General Electric Co. by paying $6.5 billion in cash and contributing cable channels worth $7.25 billion to a joint venture that will own the entertainment company.

The deal is awaiting regulatory approval. Philadelphia- based Comcast expects the green light by yearend, Chief Executive Officer Brian Roberts said on Oct. 27.

Burke has been working for almost a year to assemble his executive team, cherry picking some NBC and Comcast talent and bringing in new faces like Greenblatt,

After leading Comcast’s E! Network, among others, Ted Harbert will take control of NBC’s business side. Harbert will oversee broadcast advertising sales, the NBC station group, domestic TV syndication and NBC affiliate relations. Jeff Shell, the head of Comcast’s programming group, will oversee NBC’s international business based out of London.

Comcast rose 20 cents to $20.59 at 1:22 p.m. New York time in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. The shares had risen 21 percent this year before today.

GE, based in Fairfield, Connecticut, gained 28 cents to $16.09 in New York Stock Exchange composite trading.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kelly Riddell in Washington at kriddell1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Elstrom at pelstrom@bloomberg.net.

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