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NBC Universal taps digital driver

Perrette named president of digital distribution

The NBC Universal TV Group has signaled its intention to ramp up its drive into such growing businesses as interactive TV, wireless, video-on-demand and Internet streaming of movies and TV shows by promoting J.B. Perrette to prexy of digital distribution.

Perrette was senior VP of new-media distribution and chief financial officer at NBC Cable, reporting to Dave Zaslav. But when Zaslav ankled as president of NBC U Cable last month to become prexy of Discovery Networks U.S., NBC Universal had to reshuffle the exec deck; Perrette is the latest beneficiary.

Although NBC U is not commenting publicly, widely publicized reports indicate that the company is negotiating with News Corp. and Viacom to create a Web site competitor to YouTube. The competitor would become the online outlet for huge volumes of content produced and distributed by NBC U and its proposed partners.

Because of his experience, Perrette is a key player in these talks.

Perrette will also work with Craig Kornblau, president of home entertainment for Universal Studios, and Bridget Baker, prexy of distribution for the TV networks, with the goal of turning digital platforms into thriving moneymakers.

Perrette will also oversee NBC U’s cable investments, which include A&E Networks, Sundance Channel and NBC Weather Plus. In this capacity, Perrette reports to Jeff Zucker, chief exec of the NBC U TV Group. In his primary job, Perrette reports to George Kliavkoff, chief digital officer of NBC U.

Perrette played a key role in NBC’s buyout of Bravo in 2002, serving as chief financial officer at the cabler. He joined NBC in 2000 as an executive in business development, spearheading the completion of more than $1.5 billion in acquisitions.