THR's Women in Entertainment 2011: Power 100
When Comcast set its sights on NBCUniversal in 2009, the company was an unknown to many employees -- but not to Baker. Comcast was her longtime customer and she had worked with its co-founder Ralph Roberts, his son Brian and its executive vp, Steve Burke, for years. She joked to Burke that she knew his cable systems better than he did. "I meant that with affection," Baker says. "They had acquired TCI and Adelphia systems, where I'd spent a lot of time over the years."
During the walk up to the closing in early 2011, Comcast execs often turned to Baker for counsel and gave her oversight of the combined operations after the acquisition was official. "There are 30,000 employees at NBCUniversal," says Baker. "We were the only one that was 100 percent duplicative, because they had distribution arms for their cable assets and we obviously had that as well."
When USA, Syfy, CNBC, Bravo and other NBCUni linear and digital channels were merged with E!, Style, Golf, Versus and the Comcast group, Baker oversaw the consolidation and absorbed as many as possible, ending up with about 120 people under her supervision. Her job isn't merely to sell the content everywhere but rather to package the programs and library to create new branded channels such as digital services Chiller and Cloo (formerly Sleuth).
The mother of three (she has been married to a lawyer for 16 years), who often rides her bike to work, was one of the first people hired by NBC cable 23 years ago. And Baker finds it an "amazing irony" that when she started, cable was an afterthought at the network. "The idea that Comcast stated that the value of this acquisition was predominately in the cable piece, I take as a compliment," she says laughing. "We worked hard imagining this could happen."
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