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Comcast command

E! chief Harbert adds G4 to domain

Comcast is giving Ted Harbert a higher profile, elevating him to the newly created position of prexy-CEO at the Comcast Entertainment Group.

Harbert, who has been serving as prexy-CEO of E! Networks’ E! Entertainment TV and Style Network, adds Comcast’s G4, a growing cabler aimed at young men, to his portfolio. He now oversees all three of the cable giant’s marquee entertainment properties.

He will continue to report directly to Comcast Programming Group president Jeff Shell. Comcast’s other cablers, the Golf Channel, Versus (formerly OLN), AZN Television, PBS Kids Sprout and TV One, will continue to report to Shell.

Promotion also extends Harbert’s deal with Comcast, keeping him inhouse for several more years. G4 prexy Neal Tiles is expected to continue in his position, now reporting to Harbert.

Shell said the move serves a dual purpose: It consolidates G4 with the E! Networks group and recognizes the work Harbert has done in raising the profile and ratings of the E! Networks since his arrival in 2004. E! is up double digits in its key 18-34 and 18-49 demos for the third quarter, while Style also posted upticks in the categories.

E! and Style employ independent programming teams but share resources and personnel in marketing, operations, finance, human resources and other administrative functions.

“This is part of the ongoing consolidation I’ve been doing since I got here. It didn’t seem to make sense for G4 to be a stand-alone entity, so we’re going to go in and look for areas we can make more efficient by combining,” Shell said. “Ted is a really unique executive asset we have here, having run programming for NBC, ABC and now E!, and I think G4 will benefit from his expertise and Neal’s creative spirit.”

Harbert said he’s still learning the G4 biz. G4 launched as a network focused on videogames and gamer culture but has recently expanded and broadened its niche. Channel is available in 59 million homes.

Tiles has been with G4 for a year, bulking up the network’s off-net arsenal with runs of “Star Trek,” “The Man Show” and “Arrested Development.” G4 also recently agreed to produce an animated series spinoff of the Mel Brooks comedy film “Spaceballs.”

Consolidation will allow the network “to share our support and certain functions — and that means they’ll be able to put more money on the screen. It’s very difficult to be profitable as a stand-alone,” Harbert said.

Several departments at G4 are expected to merge with E! Networks over the next few months, but Harbert said nothing specific has been determined.

During his tenure at E!, Harbert has lifted the channel’s profile among the Hollywood community, signing Ryan Seacrest to a hefty multimillion-dollar talent deal and bringing “The Simple Life” franchise to the net.

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