NBC Universal reshuffles, Hammer takes over cable networks

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(Reuters) – Longtime NBC Universal executive Bonnie Hammer will soon be running all of the media company’s cable networks besides sports and news, as part of a reshuffling, NBC’s CEO Steve Burke said on Monday.

In a memo to staff, Burke said that starting immediately, Hammer will oversee the entire cable portfolio, including Bravo and Oxygen, which are cable networks previously controlled by Lauren Zalaznick. The new unit, which also includes USA Network, SYFY and E!, will be renamed the cable entertainment group.

Burke said this new division will “represent approximately 50 percent of the company’s operating cash flow.”

In the first three quarters of 2012, NBC generated $2.9 billion in operating cash flow. Comcast, which has been the majority owner of NBC since 2011, will report its fourth quarter and full year results on February 13. Cable networks, including sports and news channels overseen by other executives, by far generates the most revenue and profit at NBC Universal.

“I know that with this structure Bonnie and her team will maximize the power and profitability of this portfolio,” Burke said in the memo.

Zalaznick, who will no longer run any cable networks, will become the executive vice president of NBC Universal and will focus on digital initiatives such as “TV Everywhere” as well as “windowing strategies,” which means how soon to make shows available on the Internet after they air on television. She will continue to oversee NBC’s digital assets such as movie ticketing website Fandango.

NBC also said that Joe Uva, a former Univision executive, will become Chairman of Hispanic Enterprises and Content in April, a newly created position. UVA, along with Hammer and Zalaznick will report to Burke.

The moves come a few days after NBC News President Steve Capus said he would be leaving the network after struggles at the unit, including lower ratings for its flagship morning TV show, “Today.”

(This version of the story changes the last word in second paragraph to reflect that new unit name will be “cable entertainment group” and not “cable entertainment business.”)

(Reporting By Liana B. Baker- Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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