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Bela Bajaria Promoted to Universal TV President as NBC Revamps Comedy Development

Amid a shakeup of NBC’s comedy programming department, Bela Bajaria has been promoted to president of Universal Television while the studio’s comedy chief, Tracey Pakosta, shifts to NBC as exec VP of comedy programming.

Vernon Sanders moves out of overseeing comedy development at NBC back to his previous role as head of the network’s current programming, after a year as exec VP overseeing NBC’s comedy development and current series.

The shuffle in comedy amounts to a reversal of the structure put in place last spring when Sanders and Pearlina Igbokwe were tapped to head comedy and drama programming, respectively. With Sanders’ move into comedy development last year, NBC opted to have its exec VPs oversee both development and current programming in their respective domains.

Now, with Sanders returning to the role exec VP of current overseeing both comedy and drama series, Igbokwe will return to focusing on development.

Bajaria had been exec VP of Universal TV since joining the Peacock in 2011. The promotion is a recognition of her success in revitalizing NBC’s revamped production operation. She was given a mandate to beef up its creative roster and sell shows to outside networks as well as deliver new shows to NBC. Bajaria, who had a long run at CBS before moving to NBC, is known to be a rising star in the NBCUniversal exec ranks.

“Bela has done an incredible job of starting a studio from scratch three years ago and launching a series of hits on programming services ranging from NBC and Fox to A&E and Netflix,” said NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt. “This business is very important to the overall performance at NBC Entertainment.”

On Bajaria’s watch, Universal TV has fielded comedies “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and “The Mindy Project” for Fox and drama “Bates Motel” for A&E. It also steered comedy “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” to Netflix after it was initially developed for NBC. “Mindy” is about to relocate to Hulu for two more seasons.

“We’re very happy that Bela is going to continue to run the studio at a time when the demand for American television shows keeps growing in this country and around the world,” said Jennifer Salke, NBC Entertainment president who also oversees Universal TV. Bajaria reports to Greenblatt and Salke.

Salke called Pakosta “a superb comedy executive with many years of experience … This will position NBC very strongly in the comedy business moving forward, which is a major goal for us.”

Pakosta joined Universal TV in 2011 to shepherd comedy programming under Bajaria. She previously spent a decade at the WB Network, and also worked as a producer.

There’s no word yet about a successor for Pakosta at the studio.

(Pictured: Bela Bajaria)

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