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NBC's head of television Jeff Gaspin leaving the company

November 15, 2010 |  4:22 pm

NBC Universal television chairman Jeff Gaspin said Monday that he would be leaving the company he has worked for nearly two decades after Comcast Corp. takes over.

The move had been expected.  Comcast Corp. Chief Operating Officer Steve Burke, who will become chief executive of NBC Universal once the merger closes, is putting the finishing touches on a new management structure that effectively eliminates Gaspin's position.

"During the course of the Comcast/GE merger, I've had many good conversations with Steve Burke about my role at the new NBC Universal," Gaspin said in a note to his staff. "Under the current structure, all of the television entertainment assets including cable, broadcast, and distribution report to me.  As is his prerogative, Steve has determined that he wants to move in a different direction and given the scope of my current responsibilities, we could not agree on an appropriate role for me in the new company."    

JeffGaspin He said he would leave "a short time after the merger," which may close either late this year or early next year depending on approval from regulators.

Gaspin becomes the second senior NBC executive to say he would be hitting the road after Comcast takes over. In September, NBC Universal Chief Executive Jeff Zucker also said he would be leaving once the deal closed.

For Gaspin, the move was more than bittersweet.  He was entrusted with the top programming job in July 2009, and charged with stabilizing a division that was in disarray after the two-year reign of Ben Silverman, an independent producer who generated more headlines by his partying antics than successful shows for the network. One of his first big assignments was cleaning up the mess caused by Zucker's decision to move Jay Leno to prime time after Conan O'Brien took over the "Tonight Show." Neither move worked and NBC ended up putting Leno back in late night while O'Brien quit and took his act to the cable network TBS.

"I have spent a combined 19 years at NBC Universal and have had numerous positions in finance, news, cable, and broadcast," Gaspin said. "While we have had our challenges on the entertainment broadcast side, I am proud of the progress we have made and the tremendous success of our outstanding cable assets, our strong distribution divisions and our market-leading digital innovation."

"I leave NBC Universal with an obvious sense of sadness and loss, but I'll be forever grateful for my relationships with my colleagues and those who gave me a chance to participate in the success of this great company," Gaspin said. "It’s been an exhilarating ride – and I thank you for sharing it with me."

-- Meg James

Photo of Jeff Gaspin by Jay L. Clendenin, Los Angeles Times

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