Paul Telegdy has parted ways with NBC Entertainment, following allegations of racist, sexist and homophobic behavior, as parent company NBCUniversal engineers a sprawling corporate overhaul meant to streamline its network and direct-to-consumer businesses.
Most recently head of NBCUniversal’s lifestyle networks, Frances Berwick will now lead its television entertainment business, overseeing daily operations across all networks and dayparts, commissioning and acquiring programming that will work across platforms, and implement “creative windowing and scheduling strategies” across both broadcast network NBC and NBCU’s cable networks.
The entertainment programming division, consisting of scripted, unscripted, late-night and alternative programming, will oversee all original entertainment programming for NBC, the cable networks and direct-to-consumer service Peacock.
With Telegdy’s exit, no leader has been named for the entertainment-programming unit, although multiple sources had recently told Variety that Netflix’s VP of local language originals and former NBCU exec Bela Bajaria had been approached for the job, which would’ve included an expanded purview that encompassed not just the broadcast network but its cable brethren as well.
In the absence of a clear head of programming, there remain numerous highly regarded programming execs inside the company, including Universal Television studio president Pearlena Igbokwe; speculation about a leadership shift has centered on the veteran exec, as well as on NBCU Content Studios chairman Bonnie Hammer.
Matt Strauss, who currently oversees Peacock, will lead NBCU’s direct-to-consumer division. Peacock will continue to have its own team within the DTC unit but share programming and acquisition with NBCU’s entertainment units.
Pete Bevacqua will continue to lead NBC Sports. Berwick, Strauss, Bevacqua and the eventual head of the entertainment programming division will report to Mark Lazarus, chairman of NBCU television and streaming.
“We have an unparalleled portfolio that is now in an even stronger position to drive growth for the business. With the power of NBC and the broadcast model, coupled with the strong cable entertainment brands and the new addition of Peacock, we have massive scale and a deep library of valuable content that can live across platforms,” said Lazarus. “We are incredibly fortunate to have some of the most talented executives in the industry leading the charge and am confident that we are poised to win in this competitive landscape.”
The move comes as newly appointed NBCU CEO Jeff Shell focuses of streamlining content and programming operations within the company, and NBCU’s cable side finds itself under pressure to trim expenses as ad-supported cablers feel the heat in a competitive streaming and cord-cutting environment.
Significant layoffs are expected, though the extent of personnel reduction remains unclear at this time.
This is not the first major reorganization at NBCUniversal in the past year. Shell stepped into the chief executive chair at the start of the year, taking over the role from Steve Burke; last October, Hammer shifted from launching Peacock to overseeing all broadcast and cable studio operations.
Below is the internal memo that Lazarus shared with staff:
As you all know, our business has experienced more change in the prior year than in the last decade. Audiences have become more fragmented and viewership is moving across multiple platforms. To drive our future growth, it is important for us to continually assess our organization and ensure that we have the best structure to meet the needs of our fans, distribution partners, the creative community and our marketing partners.
Today, I am pleased to announce a new organizational structure for our entertainment television and streaming businesses, which I am confident strongly positions us for ongoing success.
We have some of the best brands in the industry, from the NBC broadcast network to the Entertainment and Lifestyle cable networks to Telemundo to Peacock to NBC Sports to Fandango as well as our NBC and Telemundo local stations. By closely integrating these assets, we can tap into our tremendous scale and breadth of content in more strategic and creative ways that will propel the business forward.
It is exciting to think about the new ways we can approach business, but I recognize that change is not always easy, and we must make some tough decisions. The new structure will be an adjustment for many of you and you will likely have questions about what the rest of the organization will look like. That will become clearer in the coming weeks, and I ask for your patience as the leadership team begins to map that out. In the meantime, feel free to talk with your HR manager about any questions.
I also want to congratulate some of our leaders who are taking on added responsibilities.
Frances Berwick is moving into a more expansive role as head of the newly formed Entertainment Business unit. She has done an outstanding job leading the lifestyle brands in the cable group and I know she will be a tremendous asset in this new position.
Matt Strauss’ role is expanding to include International Networks and Fandango, giving him a broader purview over our direct-to-consumer businesses. I want to acknowledge Matt and the entire Peacock team for the successful launch of our new streaming service. I know many of you around the company have contributed to Peacock — you should take great pride in the fact that it is a real bright spot in the portfolio and represents a huge growth opportunity.
Additionally, several executives are stepping up into broader roles as part of the senior team for the whole division: Christy Shibata (Finance), Brian Dorfler (Human Resources), Dave Pietrycha (Business Development) and Andra Shapiro (Legal).
Below is the announcement outlining the new structure and key executive positions.