Based in New York, Harbert came from the Comcast side in the merger with NBCUniversal. One of Burke’s top lieutenants at Comcast where he was President & CEO of Comcast Entertainment Group, Harbert was named chairman of NBC Broadcasting after the merger, overseeing NBC Local and Syndication Advertising Sales, the NBC Owned Television Stations, Affiliate Relations, Network Research, Domestic Television Distribution, NBCUniversal Digital Entertainment, and Special Events. He recently helped with day-to-day oversight of NBC’s late-night shows, which are based in New York, during the ramp-up of The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.
In the weeks before his Oct. 14 departure, Harbert will help with transition and will continue to shepherd the launch of NBCU’s new syndicated talk show hosted by Harry Connick Jr.
A possible departure for the veteran executive had been rumored for awhile through his ties with Burke run deep, and he had remained one of CEO’s closest confidants.
Because Harbert’s role was not clearly defined, with him overseeing areas scattered across different parts of the company, there will be no direct replacement for him, with Mark Lazarus, George Cheeks, Paul Telegdy, Jeff Bader and Kevin MacLellan taking over different aspects of his responsibilities.
Additionally, Burke used the announcement of executive restructuring following Harbert’s departure to unveil a bigger new role for Maggie McLean Suniewick, SVP strategic integration for NBCUniversal who had been overseen the company’s Symphony initiative of synergetic marketing cooperation between the different divisions. She has been named President, NBCUniversal Digital Enterprises. This is the first time the company has appointed a top executive to oversee the entire NBCU digital portfolio.
Before joining Comcast to run E!, Harbert did stints as president of NBC Studios and chairman of ABC Entertainment.
Here is Burke’s memo:
I am writing to announce some important changes to our leadership team.
Ted Harbert, Chairman of NBC Broadcasting, has decided to leave the company. The businesses Ted oversees are firing on all cylinders and he is ready to look for his next challenge outside of NBCUniversal. Ted has had a great 40-year career in television and has played a significant role at Comcast and NBCUniversal since he joined E! in 2004. Ted’s encyclopedic knowledge of the television business, creative instincts and enthusiasm have had a positive impact on so many of us. He has been an important adviser to me and a great colleague and mentor to many of you. I know Ted’s heart will always remain in the television business, and I look forward to seeing what he accomplishes next.
Mark Lazarus will expand his duties and become Chairman, NBC Broadcasting and Sports. Mark will continue to lead the NBC Sports Group while adding oversight of the NBCUniversal Owned Television Stations (run by Valari Staab), NBC Affiliate Relations, (headed by Jean Dietze), NBC Affiliate Marketing (headed by Scot Chastain), NBC Network Operations (managed by Tina Silvestri) and Broadcast Standards (run by Alan Wurtzel). Mark has had a major impact on NBC Sports and NBCUniversal since joining the company in 2011. Mark and his team have a winning culture and the quality of NBC Sports’ coverage is unsurpassed, from the Olympics and Sunday Night Football to the Premier League, Golf, NHL and NASCAR. Mark’s energy, intelligence and character will be great assets to NBC Broadcasting, as they have been at NBC Sports.
George Cheeks and Paul Telegdy of NBC Entertainment will assume responsibility for NBC’s first-run syndication business (led by Valerie Schaer and Ed Swindler). Jeff Bader will be responsible for the Broadcast Research group (run by Alan Wurtzel). These are the perfect homes for these areas and George, Paul and Jeff are the ideal people to run them.
Kevin MacLellan will become Chairman, Global Distribution and International, adding oversight of Domestic Television and New Media Distribution (led by Frances Manfredi) to his current role leading our international businesses. Kevin will now be responsible for television sales on a global basis, reflecting how the marketplace has evolved. Kevin and his team have done a great job, and this expansion of his responsibilities is well-deserved. He is an excellent leader, understands the global television business and brings a strategic mindset and strong deal-making abilities to this new role.
Maggie McLean Suniewick will become President, NBCUniversal Digital Enterprises. In this newly-created role, Maggie will head a division dedicated to building new digital businesses. Maggie and her team will lead the company’s digital business strategy, forge partnerships with new media and technology companies and head our efforts to deliver premium content to emerging platforms. Since Maggie joined Comcast in 2006 she has excelled in a variety of roles with the company, on both the cable and content sides of the business, most recently running Symphony. Maggie’s creativity, drive and ability to get things done will have a great impact on NBCUniversal’s future. Ron Lamprecht, Lori Conkling and Evan Shapiro will join Maggie’s team, and we will soon appoint a successor for our Symphony efforts.
We are fortunate to have so many capable executives to take on additional responsibilities. Please join me as we wish Ted all the best and congratulate our colleagues who are taking on new roles.