Comcast Reorganizes Channels Post-Sky Deal; Lee Raftery Gets New Role

In a reorganization following Comcast’s purchase of Sky, Lee Raftery is taking on the newly created role of managing director of NBCUniversal’s international channels business in the EMEA region, outside of the territories where Sky operates and where the pay-TV giant will run the combined Sky and NBCU channels operation.

As part of the restructuring, NBCU’s Southern Europe channels chief, Leonor Grandsire, will leave the company by the end of the year. There will be further job losses on the NBCU side, with an unspecified number of staffers at risk of redundancy, a spokesman confirmed to Variety.

The changes come after Comcast beat Disney-owned 21st Century Fox in the race for Sky, which Comcast bought in a bumper $39 billion deal. While there is less crossover between Comcast-owned NBCU and Sky than would have been the case with Fox-Disney, they overlap in program sales and channels.

Raftery will assume his newly created channels role in addition to his existing position as chief marketing officer. It puts him at the helm of NBCU’s channels in the region, except in the U.K., Germany, and, in theory, Italy – territories where Sky operates. (NBCU no longer has a channels business in Italy.)

NBCU channel execs whose roles cover the U.K. and Germany, and who will retain their jobs amid the restructure, will be moved to Sky’s U.K. and German headquarters. Comcast had flagged in April that the changes were coming, with Sky taking on NBCU channels in its territories. The other change will affect the Sky Vision program sales business, which is expected to be folded into NBCUniversal’s larger content-distribution operation.

“I am delighted that Lee will be able to deploy his exemplary skills to the leadership of our EMEA business,” said Kevin MacLellan, chairman of global distribution and international for NBCUniversal. “I am also incredibly grateful for Leonor’s extraordinary contribution to the success of the company over the years. With our newly aligned EMEA Networks business, we are strongly positioned in a rapidly evolving pay-TV landscape to optimize our expertise, efficiencies and opportunities for future growth.”

In channels, the NBCU lineup includes Universal, E! and Syfy. Sky’s lineup spans sports and entertainment services and the Sky Atlantic channel, which carries HBO and Showtime programming. It also has a joint venture with Disney-backed A+E for channels including History.

“I believe that combining our EMEA Networks will maximize the growth potential of our channels and brands for years ahead,” Raftery said. “The power of these great platforms, expertly overseen by a talented team across multiple locations, will continue to deliver the best quality, value and entertainment for our audiences.”

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