NBCU Int'l Names Lee Raftery Managing Director, Europe, Middle East and Africa Networks

Lee Raftery - P 2019
Courtesy of NBCUniversal

He will also continue to serve as chief marketing officer for NBCU International,

Comcast's NBCUniversal on Wednesday unveiled the promotion of a key executive and related changes tied to the planned realignment of its European channels business following Comcast's $39 billion acquisition of European pay TV giant Sky last year.

NBCUniversal International has named Lee Raftery managing director, Europe, Middle East and Africa Networks, excluding the U.K., Germany and Italy. Based in London, he reports to Kevin MacLellan, chairman, global distribution and international, NBCUniversal. The appointment is effective from July 1.

"In his newly created role, Raftery will lead the consolidation of a realigned EMEA Networks’ business into a single operation incorporating pay TV channels across Europe, Middle East and Africa, excluding Sky territories U.K., Germany  and Italy," the company said. "He will be supported by an integrated management team across three locations — London, Paris and Madrid — with a focus on building an integrated EMEA Networks group. Moving on from a structure that featured three regional European groups, this newly combined EMEA Networks’ group will be significant in size and scale, comprising 17 channels feeds across NBCU’s portfolio of seven brands."

Raftery will also continue to serve as chief marketing officer for NBCU International, leading the company's international Symphony, or synergy, efforts.  

As part of the realignment, Leonor Grandsire, managing director, networks, Southern Europe, will leave the company toward the end of 2019. 

Comcast had said in April that it was looking to bring together the U.K. and German operations of its NBCUniversal entertainment arm with those of Sky and to review the structure of NBCU's channels business in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

A letter sent back then to NBCU international staff by MacLellan listed four major proposals for the restructuring that then went into a consultation process. Among them was the combination of the NBCU and Sky pay TV channels, to be operated under the Sky banner and based at Sky's campus in west London. NBCU's U.K. channels include Syfy, E! and Universal TV.

Similarly, in Germany, Sky's Sky Deutschland is set to become the home of NBCU's networks business. The company said in April it expects the remaining U.K.-based channels team, plus some support groups, to relocate to Sky's London hub, to "increase collaboration with Sky channels' business."

MacLellan said about the executive changes Wednesday: "I am delighted that Lee will be able to deploy his exemplary skills to the leadership of our EMEA business. I am also incredibly grateful for Leonor’s extraordinary contribution to the success of the company over the years. With our newly aligned EMEA Networks business, we are strongly positioned in a rapidly evolving pay TV landscape to optimize our expertise, efficiencies and opportunities for future growth."

Raftery said that "combining our EMEA networks will maximize the growth potential of our channels and brands for years ahead." Added the executive: "The power of these great platforms, expertly overseen by a talented team across multiple locations, will continue to deliver the best quality, value and entertainment for our audiences.”