Comcast (CMCSA), which will soon control NBC, one of the crown jewels of American news and entertainment, is moving to put its own stamp on the company. It has named its chief operating officer, Stephen Burke, to replace Jeff Zucker as CEO of NBC Universal.
Although federal regulators have yet to approve Comcast's proposed purchase of 51% of NBC Universal from its current owner, GE (GE), most analysts believe they will. The deal that would create a $30 billion content and distribution colossus.
For Burke (pictured), 52, the job is the culmination of two decades of experience working at Comcast, the nation's largest cable company, after joining it in 1998 from ABC Broadcasting, where he was president.
"Steve Burke is an experienced, talented and visionary leader with over 25 years in the media and entertainment industry," Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said in a statement. "I am confident that he will lead NBCU forward to a new era of growth."
Last week, Jeff Zucker, the one-time NBC researcher who rose to become chief of NBC Universal, said he would leave the Peacock Network because NBC Universal's new owners "deserve the chance to implement their own vision."
"I have known Steve Burke for many years and greatly respect him," said Jeff Immelt, CEO of GE, which will keep a minority stake in the new company. "He has deep expertise in this industry, and I am very confident that he will be a strong leader for NBC Universal."
Consumer groups have warned that the combined Comcast/NBCU could use its position to charge rivals higher prices for NBCU content like cable programming on Bravo or sports content from Comcast's popular regional channels.
In June, Burke told All Things D: "Jeff Zucker is going to be CEO of the entity." Guess not.
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