There's more change in store at peacock

NBC Uni reorganization sees Turner exit ad post

NEW YORK -- NBC Universal is expected to announce a reorganization as early as today that will see longtime ad sales chief Keith Turner -- who has left the company after eight years in the job -- replaced by veteran General Electric executive Mike Pilot. In addition, the company will redistribute the duties of former NBC Uni Television Group president and chief operating officer Randy Falco and soon-to-depart cable/new-media chief David Zaslav.

Pilot at present is president GE Capital Solutions, U.S. Equipment Financing. Pilot, who is expected to directly succeed Turner as president, NBC Uni sales and marketing, has been with GE since 1984, starting out in its commercial equipment financing unit. In his most recent post, Pilot managed nearly $30 billion in assets and is credited with "reinvent(ing)" a 30-year-old business division and doubling its net income during the past two years, according to information posted at GE's corporate Web site. Reps for NBC Uni declined comment on Pilot's appointment.

Falco and Zaslav announced they were leaving within a day of each other two weeks ago, Falco to head AOL and Zaslav to lead Discovery Communications. Turner, who was closely allied with Falco, was generally seen to be on his way out with Falco's departure as well as the fallen fortunes of the formerly No. 1 broadcast network.

The three departures are continued fallout surrounding the implementation of NBC Uni 2.0, the company's work-force reduction and realignment as well as the diminished status of the broadcast network and speculation over when longtime NBC Uni CEO Bob Wright will retire.

The reorganization that could be announced today won't address Wright and Jeff Zucker's future other than to put them atop the corporation organizational chart as they have been in the past. But it's likely to mean more responsibilities for other executives, who sources said will be getting the responsibilities that had been Falco and Zaslav's. Falco already has left the company; Zaslav will remain into early next year.

No one will replace Falco or Zaslav. Instead, their roles in the company will go to a handful of other executives. Falco had many responsibilities as president and chief operating officer of the television group, including many behind-the-scenes functions such as affiliate relations, the distribution of cable, business development, the National Broadband Co. and WeatherPlus initiatives as well as the NBC-owned Spanish-language network Telemundo.

Sources familiar with the planning said the goal is to redistribute the workload and streamline the company in a way that would put it even more in line with its NBCU 2.0 efforts. It will be the latest in a line of reorganizations of the NBC Uni television division, which was reorganized in late 2005 and shuffled again in May even before NBCU 2.0 was announced.

The same streamlining will happen in Zaslav's domain, which not only included cable and new media but also production in NBC Uni Domestic Television. Barry Wallach, president of NBC Uni Domestic Television Distribution, could report to Zucker. Other executives getting additional duties will be Jeff Gaspin, president of NBC Universal Cable Entertainment, Jean-Briac Perrette, senior vp new media at NBC Uni Cable, and Bridgette Baker, executive vp at NBC Uni Cable.

"Keith has been an outstanding leader of our sales organization for the past eight years and has played a significant role in our success throughout his almost 20-year career at NBC," Wright wrote. "He has built a first-rate team of sales professionals who will continue to be industry leaders in our rapidly evolving business environment."

NBC Uni's broadcast TV business fell from its longtime perch at the top of the pyramid with the series finale of "Friends" in May 2004. NBC went from first to fourth in the adults 18-49 demographic the next year, losing almost $1 billion in 2005 and then having another difficult upfront in 2006. It has seen some signs of life with such series as "Deal or No Deal," "Heroes" and "The Office" as well as the introduction of "Sunday Night Football."

It wasn't clear Friday when Turner would depart or where he was going.
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