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Cable Technology Feature Article

September 27, 2010

Comcast Names Burke CEO of NBC Universal to Replace Zucker

By Ed Silverstein, TMCnet Web Editor

Stephen B. Burke will become CEO of NBC Universal (News - Alert) upon the close of Comcast’s acquisition of 51 percent of the company from GE. 

Burke, 52, would succeed NBC Universal President and CEO Jeff Zucker, who will continue to keep his position until the close of the transaction.

In a joint statement, Comcast (News - Alert) and GE also said that there will be no additional structural or personnel announcements until the deal closing process and timing is certain.

Bloomberg (News - Alert) reported that Burke joined Philadelphia-based Comcast in 1998 from Disney, where he was president of ABC Broadcasting. He helped lead the integration of AT&T (News - Alert) Corp.’s cable unit into Comcast’s businesses ahead of schedule following the $56 billion purchase in November 2002, according to Bloomberg.

Comcast Chairman and CEO Brian L. Roberts said, “Steve Burke is an experienced, talented and visionary leader with over 25 years in the media and entertainment industry. Steve is one of the most well-respected executives in the industry, and I am confident that he will lead NBCU forward to a new era of growth.”

GE Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt added, “I have known Steve Burke for many years and greatly respect him. He has deep expertise in this industry and I am very confident that he will be a strong leader for NBC Universal.”

In a statement last week, Zucker announced his planned departure to his staff.

“Now, it is clear to me that this is the right decision for me and for the company. Comcast will be a great new steward, just as GE has been, and they deserve the chance to implement their own vision,” he

said. “I am proud that they will inherit a company in very good shape.”

Comcast Corporation has 23.2 million video customers, 16.4 million high-speed Internet customers, and 8.1 million Comcast Digital Voice customers.

Comcast is principally involved in the development, management and operation of cable systems and in the delivery of programming content. 

Bloomberg reported that the challenge for Burke is to boost ratings at NBC, which trails CBS Corp., New Corp.’s Fox and Walt Disney Co.’s ABC. He also needs to help the combination of a broadcast network and cable operator contribute to rising earnings at Comcast, Bloomberg reported.

In addition, investors will be looking for better programming and increased advertising revenue from the company, Christopher King, an analyst at Stifel Nicolaus (News - Alert) & Co. in Baltimore, told Bloomberg.

Ed Silverstein is a contributing editor for TMCnet's InfoTech Spotlight. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi