UPDATED: In a rare case of high-profile executive poaching between broadcast networks, NBC has hired away ABC’s longtime head of scheduling Jeff Bader. He is being given a title of President, Program Planning, Strategy and Research, NBC Entertainment and will report to Robert Greenblatt, Chairman of NBC Entertainment. The move is reminiscent of then-CBS’ head of business affairs Marc Graboff’s jump to NBC in 1997 and represents a hit to Paul Lee’s top executive team.
In the newly created position, which reportedly comes with a significant salary bump for Bader, he will be responsible for scheduling NBC’s primetime, daytime and late night programming. He will have NBC Entertainment’s scheduling and research departments reporting to him and will also work with NBC News and NBC Sports. “Jeff Bader is widely known as one of the broadcasting industry’s most consummate executives and he will be integral to the re-building of NBC in many ways,” Greenblatt said. Bader also will contribute to NBC’s sales, affiliate and distribution areas ran by Ted Harbert who was once Bader’s boss at ABC. “We think this is a great opportunity for Jeff, and we wish him well,” a spokesperson for ABC said. Because of the sudden nature of Bader’s move to NBC, there is no immediate replacement for him at ABC whose scheduling department includes VPs Steve Kern and Wendell Foster as senior executives handling different areas.
NBC has been without a top scheduling executive since veteran Mitch Metcalf left in March 2011, shortly after Greenblatt took over NBC. His departure left SVP of scheduling Lisa Vebber as the senior executive in the department, and she oversaw scheduling for the network over the past year and a half. The network’s most recent fall schedule raised eyebrows with some decisions, like putting comedy blocks on four nights and slating Rock Center With Brian Williams Thursdays at 10 PM. NBC also is experimenting with a very staggered fall rollout, with premieres spread out over two months.
With Bader’s appointment, Greenblatt has now installed new heads of all major departments at NBC Entertainment. Bader, a well-respected 24-year ABC veteran, was most recently EVP, Planning, Scheduling and Distribution, ABC Entertainment Group. According his resume, Bader’s first job was at NBC Entertainment, so the new gig represents a homecoming of sorts for him.