NBC Chief Jeff Zucker Out Ahead of Comcast Merger

Jeff ZuckerJeff Zucker, the one-time wunderkind producer who rose to become chief of NBC Universal, is leaving the 'Peacock Network' ahead of the company's impending merger with cable giant Comcast (CMCSA).

In an email sent to colleagues Friday morning, Zucker said he made the decision because NBC Universal's new owners "deserve the chance to implement their own vision."

Comcast has proposed purchasing 51% of NBC Universal from its current owner, GE (GE), in a deal that would create a $35 billion content and distribution juggernaut. The merger is currently awaiting approval by the Federal Communications Commission, but is expected to go through and close by the end of the year.

"It is clear to me that this is the right decision for me and for the company. Comcast will be a great new steward, just as GE has been, and they deserve the chance to implement their own vision," Zucker wrote.

Zucker has faced criticism for the NBC's ratings slide, which has accompanied the network's failure to replace long-running hit shows like Seinfeld, Friends, and The Office with new hits. On the other hand, the company's cable properties, which include Bravo, have performed very well, generating some 80% of the company's $2.3 billion in profits.

Zucker also presided over the company's disastrous -- and ultimately aborted -- attempt to schedule Jay Leno in prime-time, a decision which was reversed, leading the the acrimonious departure of Conan O'Brien, who Leno ultimately replaced as host of The Tonight Show.

Zucker said his future is uncertain.

"I don't yet know what my future will bring," Zucker wrote. "I've spent the last 24 years thinking only about NBC Universal, and never contemplated anything else. I haven't even begun to think about the next chapter."

Jeff Zucker's memo:

Well, the time has come. This time, to tell you a little news about me.

When Comcast assumes control of NBC Universal, I will leave the company.

It has not been an easy or simple decision. I have spent my entire adult life here, more than 24 years. This is the only place I have ever worked. The only professional thing I have ever known. I met my wife here, enjoyed the birth of our four children in that time, worked in almost every division of the company. And forged relationships, both professional and personal, that will last a lifetime.

I remember, vividly, the first day I came to work here in August, 1986. I walked to work at 30 Rockefeller Plaza that day; it was humid and my shirt was soaking by the time I got there. In the years since, I have enjoyed nothing but sheer pleasure in having the names NBC and Universal on my business cards. Sure, there have been ups and downs in the last quarter century. But when I step back, and think about what we've been through, I feel nothing but pride and joy. It has been a great run and I've been incredibly fortunate.

Now, it is clear to me that this is the right decision for me and for the company. Comcast will be a great new steward, just as GE has been, and they deserve the chance to implement their own vision.

I am proud that they will inherit a company in very good shape, with almost every one of our divisions enjoying their best year ever. The current strength of the company is a tribute to every one of you and the terrific leadership team that is in place.

We'll talk more about the shape of the company in the months ahead. For now, I just wanted you to know my plans. I won't be going anywhere until the day the deal closes, and that day is still months away. There is plenty left to do, and we have an obligation to each other to maintain what we have already built. I will continue to approach everything we do with the long-term interest of the company in mind, just as I always have; I know no other way.

I don't yet know what my future will bring. I've spent the last 24 years thinking only about NBC Universal, and never contemplated anything else. I haven't even begun to think about the next chapter. But I wanted to be honest with you about this news as soon as I could.

I love NBC Universal. And always will. And I am grateful to each of you.

My most heartfelt thanks.

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Irish

The reason NBC and MSNBCRAZY are watched by so few (go to www.tvbythenumbers.com) you'll see for yourself. This morning another great example of the inhouse CONSTANT FIGHTING of little minds between Joe the coffee drinker and O'Donnell who starts a new show tonight. (I give it 6 months) the on air tift started at 8:35 AM and went until 8:45 UNTIL O'DONNELL HAD TO APOLOGIZE ON AIR TO PUFFIN STUFF JOE THE COFFEE DRINKER ABOUT NOT BEING A UNION BASHER. The in house fighting of this MSNBCrazy is nothing new. Joe pretends he's from Florida yet when in CT, he's the hometown boy there, then there GA where he was born. The venomous looks O'Donnell was giving at the camera said it all. I actually felt bad he had to shake the hand of Joe the coffee drinker and APOLOGIZE ON LIVE TV. This guy couldn't MAKE IT IN CONGRESS that's how bad he is. 1 trick pony. LOL

September 27 2010 at 9:24 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
silas

I see the used toilet paper squares are out defending Bonus used toilet paper roll Zucker and their filthy left-wing, fading agenda. The American people know better my fickle friends-it's all in the ratings. There is nothing you can do about it but cry in your wet blankets. You, my friends, have been had-and you owe it to yourselves to go back and revisit just what it is you are blindly defending.

September 26 2010 at 7:51 PM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply
ajcook111

FOX NEWS has become the propaganda arm for the republican party.

September 26 2010 at 4:19 PM Report abuse -6 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to ajcook111's comment
bubuchamp92

They're not only the propaganda machine, they're downright dangerous, irresponsible, and criminal. The way they report events is one of the most gravest injustices to the American people I have ever witnessed. One example is Steve Doocy's report of the Town Hall Obama did on CNBC. He literally reported the account in a biased editing scheme that made Obama seem like an evil, crooked leader. I saw the CNBC show and then happen to catch Doocy's piece. OMG. Downright disgraceful. And no one seems to be doing anything about this renegade approach that FOX News is taking with journalism. Roger Ailes should be fired for his involvement in encouraging his network's reporting of the political and economic events of the past years with his personal bias.

September 26 2010 at 5:17 PM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply
Hello Philip

It just makes me sick to see how you righties twist the facts to suit yourselves. And Glen Beck is a liar too...A big hypocrite...Always saying one thing and just the opposite the next week. He is a joke...God doesn't belong in this country's politics. But that means nothing to Beck..Oh no, he just rants on and on..How can anyone believe him? Open your eyes folks..Beck, Hannity, Limbsugh,and the rest of those loudmouths just spew hate daily...Too bad you can't see that...Just a bunch of ditto heads I guess.

September 26 2010 at 1:41 PM Report abuse -6 rate up rate down Reply
Hello Philip

Look folks. I am 77 yrs. old and I have found that it takes money to make money. It is so obvious that most of you don't undrstand this...And the funny thing is, the GOP tell you every day they are going back to same ole, same ole. You need to read between the lines...Boener says one thing and does another. And that fool, Karl Rove? Constantly changing his remarks to make Obama look bad..I see you accept Rush and his foolish rants too...What a mistake that is...He is such a liar..Just a clown..

September 26 2010 at 1:36 PM Report abuse -6 rate up rate down Reply
Hello Philip

You right-wingers are obviously not aware or ignore all of the hate coming out of Karl Rove's mouth..And Shawn Hannity? All he does for an hour is mock the Dems. You people should shut up and remember....Bush got us into Iraq, and that is where it all started, no matter what you Repub's think...Fox is now a part of the T-Party, since Beck (yuck) and the rest support the Righties in everything they do, bad or good...I am ashamed of you for being so blind...

September 26 2010 at 1:28 PM Report abuse -6 rate up rate down Reply
otterdad48

I find bombast, pretention and supercileous attitude unbecoming. For that reason I find people like Beck and O'Reily very annoying. It is the same reason I do not watch some news commentators whose message I might agree with. Rachel Maddow is the best thing to happen to news commentary in a very long time. She does not talk over, interrupt or shout down guests with whom she disagrees. Would that FOX had a talking head with the same good manners.

September 26 2010 at 12:00 PM Report abuse -5 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to otterdad48's comment
whuss99

Did you write each of these words in between puffs on you "Haavaad University" tobacco pipe?

September 26 2010 at 8:07 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
zoe

The Chris Mathews/Keith Olbermann news shows are typical of MSNBC cable news coverage. We have all watched Chris Mathews evolve from a TV News show host into a cartoon character. The old Saturday night live satirical exaggerations of Chris Mathews have been usurped by a more bazaar real version. Chris doesn’t wait for answers when interviewing, he simple asks the question, answers it, and dares the guest to contradict his sagacity. His political proclivity is even more predictable then his demeanor. My three suggestions for MSNBC would be: 1. Change the title of the Chris Mathews show to Oddball. 2. Dress Chris in a Clown outfit with a mock base ball bat to hit the guests when they try to respond to his question/answer monologues. 3. Bring back some talking puppets from the Sesame Street show for more serious interludes. The Kieth Olbermann News show (Countdown), just demonstrates to what extent a Major News media outlet will go to over take competitors. MSNBC in its attempts to catch up to the ratings war with the other Cable News outlets spawned the Kieth Olbermann News Show. We all thought that after the Jerry Springer show was removed from the TV Media wasteland, we would be free of low brow viewing. Congratulations MSNBC, you have replaced Jerrys sensual low standards with your own nightly Countdown of intellectual baseness.

September 26 2010 at 11:50 AM Report abuse +8 rate up rate down Reply
zoe

1. If you are a hate Bush/FOX addict and/or Obama obsessive and want your daily fix of Blame it on Bush/FOX and/or swear allegiance to Obama, watch MSNBC. 2. If you want the news from an effete European (supercilious) point of view, presented in a politically correct fashion, watch CNN or BBC news. 3. If you want controversy and full coverage of the news, watch FOX news. 4. If you want to be spoon fed the news by ratings competing beautiful people, watch CBS, NBC, or ABC. 5. If you are a self appointed sage (intellectual wannabe) and must daily reassure yourself of membership in such an august group, read the NY Times. 6. If you do not want to understand the news watch iconoclastic news comedians (Bill Maher, Jon Stuart, Keith Olbermann shows) or let AOL lead you to a compatible news blog (bias) that suits your invective or sophism.

September 26 2010 at 11:45 AM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply
mlt22193

After having fun and reading these comments, I now understand why you all hate Rachel Maddow so much. You don't understand a word she says. She's way over your heads.

September 26 2010 at 10:45 AM Report abuse -7 rate up rate down Reply