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Official: Jeff Zucker leaving NBC Universal

Says he'll step down once Comcast deal is finalized

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Jeff Zucker, the chief executive of NBC Universal, announced Friday he'll step down once the network's deal with Comcast is finalized.

"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," he wrote in a memo sent to staff Friday. (Read the entire memo after the jump).

"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," he added. [Related: Lauren Zalaznick puts off signing new contract with NBCU.]

Zucker wrote that he has not figured out his next move.

"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.

In an interview with the New York Times, Zucker said it was inevitable he'd be leaving after meeting with Comcast’s chief operating officer Steve Burke two weeks ago.

“We had both gotten to the same place,” he said. “He made it clear that they wanted to move on at the close of the deal and I was completely comfortable with that.”

Zucker, who is the network's longest serving executive, calls the decision to leave "incredibly emotional" and “gut-wrenching in the sense that you have spent your whole life here at NBC.”

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter earlier this week, Zucker didn't deny he was leaving the company.

Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts on Friday also shared some nice words on Zucker's departure.

"Jeff Zucker has devoted his entire professional life to NBC, and he has led the company with integrity and purpose," he said. "The success of NBC Universal puts us in a wonderful position as we plan for our joint venture with GE. We wish Jeff well in his future endeavors,"

Read the entire memo after the jump.

Georg Szalai contributed to this report.


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.