Steve Burke, Comcast chief operating officer and a onetime executive star at Disney, will become CEO of NBC Universal once federal regulators approve the cable TV giant’s $30-billion proposal to control the content company.
Though formal announcement was made jointly by Comcast and GE on Sunday, the appointment was almost a fait accompli from the moment Comcast and NBCU’s parent GE concluded the deal last December.
And it comes two days after current NBCU chief executive Jeff Zucker disclosed on Friday that he’d be exiting -- at Comcast’s request -- at the close of the deal.
Burke, Comcast’s No. 2 behind scion and CEO Brian Roberts, has been leading the planning effort in the months since the deal was consummated and as federal regulators mulled the proposal.
"Steve Burke is an experienced, talented and visionary leader with over 25 years in the media and entertainment industry," Roberts said in a statement. "Steve is one of the most well-respected executives in the industry, and I am confident that he will lead NBCU forward to a new era of growth."
He will oversee a sprawling empire — a joint venture 51 percent controlled by Comcast and 49 percent by GE — that includes cable networks such as USA and Bravo, the NBC broadcast network and Universal Studios. Comcast will contribute such programming assets E! Entertainment Television, Style Network, Golf Channel, VERSUS, G4, PBS KIDS Sprout, TV One and 10 regional sports networks.
Burke, 52, landed a Comcast in 1998 as president of the cable operations and helped expand the company into the nation’s largest cable operator. In that time, Comcast also has become the nation’s largest internet service provider and third largest phone company.
Before joining Comcast, Burke was rising the corporate ladder at Disney, where he was president of ABC Broadcasting, helped launch the Disney Stores and restructured the then-troubled Euro Disney.
In recent days, the makeup of joint venture management team has been the subject of intense media speculation. Now there’s one certainty — Steve Burke is boss.