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Ted Harbert on Leaving NBC: ‘It’s Time to Go Do Something Else’

”It’s been on my mind for quite a while,“ veteran executive tells TheWrap

Ted Harbert says that for the first time in 40 years, he doesn’t know what he’s going to do next.

The longtime TV executive revealed Thursday that he’s going to leave his post as chairman of NBC Broadcasting on Oct. 14. He’s not being formally replaced in his role, which includes oversight of the company’s syndication ad sales, owned-and-operated stations and affiliate relations. Rather, his duties are being split up by five top executives.

In an interview with TheWrap, Harbert said that marking 40 seasons in the TV business signaled time for a change.

“It’s been on my mind for quite awhile,” Harbert said. “It resonated with me very personally as: It’s time to go do something else.”

“My divisions are running great, and in 2011 when I came here, they weren’t,” he added. “We’ve all done some pretty good work, especially my teams.”

Harbert is one of the most experienced executives in the television business. Prior to his current role, he was president and CEO of Comcast Entertainment Group, overseeing such brands as E!, Style and G4. Before that, he held top roles at NBC Studios and ABC.

“It was great of [Comcast boss] Steve Burke to bring me back to New York and let me run divisions that I had really never run before,” Harbert said. “I’d done all the West Coast jobs you could do, but I really hadn’t done the East Coast jobs.”

Harbert said he had been pondering his move for months.

“I went to Steve earlier this year and said, ‘I don’t know what I want to do. I don’t know how long I want to keep on working in a network job,'” he said. “He said, ‘OK. Talk to me over the course of the summer.'” Harbert decided on an exit around the time of the Rio Olympics, he said, which NBC telecast.

Meanwhile, he doesn’t leave with any idea what he might do next. And that, Harbert said, was deliberate.

“I haven’t made one phone call to anyone about future employment, and I don’t know when I’m going to do that,” he said. “I’m gonna be here for the next month, and it’s gonna be business as usual for the next month. And then I’m gonna go take my wife on a trip and we’ll see. I don’t know if it’s a job, I don’t know if it’s teaching, or raking the sand traps on a golf course, which I did do when I was 15 years old.”

He added: “I don’t think my wife wants me at home all day, but she may have to live with that for a while.”