TV topper confirms departure in memo to staff

NBC Universal TV topper Jeff Gaspin is departing the Peacock.

Gaspin confirmed his pending exit, once the NBC U-Comcast merger is completed, in a memo to staffers on Monday afternoon. He’ll leave the company after a transitional period similar to the time table for NBC U CEO Jeff Zucker’s departure.

Gaspin had been widely expected to leave after the merger, but nothing became official until Monday, when Gaspin and incoming NBC U CEO Steve Burke hammered out his fate.

“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 wrote. “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. Therefore I will be departing NBC Universal a short time after the merger.”

Gaspin noted that under the current setup, all of NBC U’s TV entertainment assets — including cable, broadcast, and distribution — have reported to him.

It’s understood that under the new NBC U structure, incoming entertainment topper Bob Greenblatt will report to Burke, as will cable toppers Bonnie Hammer and Lauren Zalaznick.

The well-respected Gaspin had been talked up for a potential business/operations job similar to the one once held by Randy Falco and Neil Braun — but the reality of moving the exec into a scaled-down position made such a move unlikely.

Meanwhile, insiders expect Burke to announce the new NBC U setup mid-week (perhaps Wednesday). Among the likely announcements: Confirmation for the Greenblatt, Hammer and Zalaznick roles, as well as the appointment of Comcast vet Ted Harbert in a post likely heading up East Coast network operations.

Gaspin departs after spending a combined 19 years at NBC Universal. His most recent position was his most challenging: Putting NBC back on track after a ratings collapse that was hastened by last year’s “Jay Leno Show” debacle.

“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,” he wrote. Gaspin added that he exits NBC U “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. It’s been an exhilarating ride – and I thank you for sharing it with me.”

Gaspin has served as chairman of NBC Universal TV Entertainment since July 2009, overseeing all business, creative, production, distribution and marketing aspects of NBC Universal’s television operations.

Before that, he was president and COO of NBC Universal Television Group, a gig he had held since July 2007. Under Gaspin, the company acquired Oxygen, among other deals. Over the past decade Gaspin has also served as prexy of NBC Universal Cable and Digital Content; prez of NBC Universal Cable Entertainment and Cross-Network Strategy and Bravo topper.

After leaving to join VH1 in 1996, Gaspin rejoined the Peacock in March 2001 as exec VP of alternative series, longform, specials and program strategy at NBC Entertainment, developing shows such as “Deal or No Deal,” “The Apprentice” and “Biggest Loser.”

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