NBCUniversal TV Shake-Up: NBC's Paul Telegdy Out, Frances Berwick to Oversee Networks

Paul Telegdy and Frances Berwick-Getty-Split-H 2020
John Sciulli/Getty Images; Craig Barritt/Getty Images

Three months after shaking up NBCUniversal's news division, CEO Jeff Shell and Mark Lazarus are making their anticipated shake-up within the company's TV unit.

The conglomerate is shifting from a vertical reporting structure to what it dubs a horizontal one, with Frances Berwick now charged with leading a new Entertainment Business unit that gives the 30-year company exec oversight of programming strategy and content across all the TV entertainment networks. As part of the restructuring, NBC Entertainment chairman Paul Telegdy is leaving the company. His exit arrives less than a week after NBC launched an investigation into claims that Telegdy fostered a toxic culture, claims of which were detailed extensively by The Hollywood Reporter. Telegdy's role will not be replaced. NBC will still continue the investigation into the culture at the network. 

As part of the reorganization, NBCUniversal is searching for an executive to oversee a newly launched Entertainment Programming unit. (Netflix's Bela Bajaria previously declined the job, sources tell THR.) That unit will oversee a number of content groups, including scripted, unscripted, late night and alternative. The executive will have a large purview that includes entertainment programming for NBC, cable networks and Peacock.

NBC's studio structure remains in place, with Bonnie Hammer leading a division that includes Pearlena Igbokwe's Universal TV and Dawn Olmstead's Universal Content Productions. Matt Strauss will continue to oversee Peacock, which has topped more than 10 million signups since its debut. Strauss will now also include oversight of International Networks and Fandango.

The change means that Berwick will a considerably larger purview than her Lifestyle Networks group that included Bravo, Oxygen and E!. She will now have oversight of all budget spends and be charged with deciding which content is picked up and for which platform. As part of the changes, executives at each of NBCU's networks could work on content from other divisions. Berwick and the Entertainment Programming exec will now report directly to Lazarus, chairman of NBCU TV and Streaming. NBC's head of alternative Meredith Ahr — who sources allege played a key role alongside Telegdy in fostering a toxic culture at the network — remains on board as the investigation is just getting underway. NBCUniversal has declined to say who is handling the investigation.

The reorganization better positions NBCUniversal for the current marketplace and creates a centralized studio and networks group where content can be developed and later pushed out in a way that makes sense across the entire portfolio. NBCUniversal, like other media behemoths, has been experimenting with airing programs across multiple networks in different groups. Reality competition show Cannonball, for example, was developed at USA Network and aired on both the basic cable network as well as NBC. Syfy's The Purge also aired on USA Network and the upcoming Chucky update will do the same. 

What's more, the realignment is also expected to create millions in cost savings, with redundancies among programming, marketing and scheduling divisions expected to be eliminated in a bid to create a more unified and leaner company. It is a similar approach Shell put in place in May with the news division.

"We have an unparalleled portfolio that is now in an even stronger position to drive growth for the business. With the power of NBC and the broadcast model, coupled with the strong cable entertainment brands and the new addition of Peacock, we have massive scale and a deep library of valuable content that can live across platforms,” said Lazarus. “We are incredibly fortunate to have some of the most talented executives in the industry leading the charge and am confident that we are poised to win in this competitive landscape."
With the realignment, NBCU's centralized structure now includes four divisions: Strauss' Direct to Consumer, Berwick's Entertainment Business, the Entertainment Programming unit and NBC Sports, with Pete Bevacqua now expanding to work across the entire portfolio. Telemundo, NBCU-owned TV stations, and affiliate relations will all continue to report to Lazarus and operate as separate business units within the portfolio.