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NBC’s Meredith Ahr Named President, Universal TV Alternative Studio

NBC Entertainment has reorganized its unscripted programming team, naming longtime exec Meredith Ahr president of the newly formed Universal Television Alternative Studio. Ahr will develop unscripted and alternative programming for NBC and other networks through the new venture. She will continue to report to Paul Telegdy, NBC’s reality chief.

Telegdy is also getting a promotion, being named president, alternative and reality group, NBC Entertainment. He will continue to report to NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt. Both Telegdy and Ahr have extended their contracts with NBC Entertainment.

As Telegdy adds the new studio to his portfolio, he relinquishes oversight of NBC’s late-night programming. The network has not yet settled on a new late-night chief.

Senior vice presidents Enrique Guillen, George Sealey and Fernando Hernandez will report to Ahr at the studio.

“Paul is in a class by himself in the area of alternative programming, which is one of the biggest strengths of NBC and a key reason why we have returned to a leadership position among networks,” said Greenblatt. “He has a vision of the future and his finger is on the pulse of what is exciting in this space, and it was a priority of mine to continue to tap him as a major resource for this company. Part of the strategy was setting up a studio, to be run by Meredith, that will provide us with the biggest reality hits of the future, whether on NBC or other programming services and to territories around the world.  Paul comes to us with a global understanding of this business and I’m pleased that he will continue to make this company his home after such a winning track record that began so dramatically with ‘The Voice.’”

The restructuring on the reality side comes one week after a shakeup at NBC’s scripted studio, Universal Television. Bela Bajaria departed her post as president of the studio, which she had led since 2011. She was replaced by NBC drama development executive Pearlena Igbokwe.

The new alternative studio is separate from the Igbokwe’s scripted operation.

Among the series Ahr has helped develop are “The Voice,” “America’s Got Talent,” “The Celebrity Apprentice,” “Last Comic Standing” and “Who Do You Think You Are?”

Ahr joined NBC in 2001 as a page and has led alternative development at the network for the last seven years.

“Meredith is an exceptional creative executive and leader, with the rare combination of being fiercely competitive, smart and humble,” Telegdy said. “There is not a successful alternative franchise on this network that hasn’t been influenced and energized by her expertise and insight into what audiences crave. Her passion for innovation is what has kept our entire division on the cutting edge, and that is reflected by the genre-defining shows she has personally developed and managed for this network for the last 12 years. We are all extremely confident that Meredith, in her new role, will create opportunities for strategic partnerships that will produce content for all platforms and deliver formats that translate to any marketplace.”

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