Video: NBC’s Wright hands off to Zucker staff and news service reports
updated 2/7/2007 7:40:01 PM ET 2007-02-08T00:40:01

NBC executive Jeffrey Zucker has been appointed to succeed his boss as head of NBC Universal, a move that will give him responsibility for charting the course of the media and entertainment company as it moves further into the digital media age. The promotion to  president and chief executive officer is effective immediately, the company said in a statement Tuesday. is a joint venture of Microsoft and NBC Universal News. NBC Universal is 80 percent owned by General Electric and 20 percent by Vivendi.

Zucker, 41, started at NBC as an Olympics researcher in 1986 and moved to “Today” in 1989.

In 1991, at the age of 26, he became the show’s executive producer. Under his leadership, “Today” took control in the mornings and became NBC’s most profitable program.

Zucker has been chief executive of NBC Universal Television Group since 2005, responsible for the television network's programming and distribution. In his new position, he has the added responsibility for the Universal movie studio and theme parks as well as additional corporate operations.

Video: NBC names Jeff Zucker as CEO “Jeff Zucker is a terrific talent and the right person to guide NBC Universal on the next stage of its growth,” Jeffrey Immelt, chairman of corporate parent General Electric Co., said in a statement Tuesday.

Zucker succeeds Bob Wright, who has been in charge for 21 years. Wright will continue to serve as vice chairman of GE. Zucker's promotion had been widely expected.

Prudential analyst Nicholas Heymann said Immelt likely tapped Zucker in part because he wanted someone who is familiar with NBC’s resources and who understands the content end of the business.

“You have to have a person that has a real feel for what’s breaking and what’s breaking out and what’s breaking down, and what’s new and what’s not,” he said.

Heymann said Zucker will face several major challenges in his post, Heymann said. He comes to the job as broadcasters are trying to figure out how to navigate an increasingly digital media age, in which people want to watch television at different times and in different formats than networks traditionally air them. He also will have to continue to implement a broad cost-cutting plan that is already under way.

“This transition is a big deal,” Heymann said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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