Peacock ops prexy upped to veep

NEW YORK — John Eck, NBC’s president of broadcast and network operations, has been named vice president of NBC Universal Integration planning.

GE announced the appointment in an internal memo Monday. Eck will be joined on the Vivendi Universal side by Universal chief financial officer Frederick Huntsberry, who was a GE employee before decamping to the studio in 1996.

Eck and Huntsberry retain their current positions throughout the integration process, which is expected to see major restructuring of the two companies’ overlapping operations, including facilities, outsourcing and staffing.

Known as a no-nonsense taskmaster, Eck headed the NBC/GE due diligence process along with John Miller, co-head of NBC’s internal advertising agency,

An 11-year veteran of NBC, Eck oversees NBC’s production operations, commercial integration, engineering and advanced technology, facilities-real estate and sourcing. Eck also served as senior vice president with oversight of NBC’s Six Sigma efficiency and quality initiative, chief financial officer for NBC Intl. Business Development and VP of financial planning and analysis. Prior to NBC, he held various financial positions within GE Capital, GE Power Systems and GE Aircraft Engines.

GE and Vivendi Universal last month agreed to terms to merge Viv U Entertainment and NBC into a new firm, owned 80% by GE. Pending regulatory clearances, deal is expected to close in the second quarter of 2004.

To make the deal work for shareholders and be accretive to earnings in year two, GE is said to be targeting substantial cost cuts. Some 4% of operating budgets are likely to be trimmed in the first year, largely by selling off redundant lands, buildings and studio lots, cutting back office service, centralizing some divisions, and moving some program development inhouse.

NBC sources have indicated there likely will be no major announcements on organization structure or staffing changes before Christmas.

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