Jeff Zucker is leaving NBC Universal

jeff-zucker-nbc-320.jpgNBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker announced Friday (Sept. 24) that he's leaving the company he has run for the past three years -- and worked for his entire adult life.

Zucker says he'll depart when NBC Universal's merger with Comcast is completed; that's scheduled to happen sometime early next year. That he's leaving isn't a big surprise, but the timing of his announcement (first reported by The New York Times) was unexpected.

"Look, I knew from the day this was announced that this was a possibility. I wasn't going to shut the door on anything," Zucker tells the Times. "But in the last nine months it became increasingly clear that they did want to put their own team in place -- and I didn't want to end up being a guest in my own house."

Zucker started working at NBC in 1986 as a researcher with NBC Sports. He moved to "Today" in 1989 and in 1992 became the morning show's youngest ever executive producer. He was named president of NBC Entertainment in 2001 and steadily moved up the executive chain after that. He became CEO of NBC Universal in 2007.

"I have enjoyed nothing but sheer pleasure in having the names NBC and Universal on my business cards," Zucker writes in a memo sent to NBCU employees. "Sure, there have been ups and downs in the last quarter century. But when I step back, and think about what we've been through, I feel nothing but pride and joy. It has been a great run and I've been incredibly fortunate."

Despite NBC's flagging prime-time fortunes in the past few years, Zucker will leave a fairly healthy NBC Universal when Comcast takes over. The company made more than $2 billion in profit last year, thanks mostly to its cable channels USA, Bravo, Oxygen and Syfy.

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Photo credit: NBC Universal