In a dramatic reorganization at NBCUniversal, respected programmer Bonnie Hammer has been promoted to lead the company’s entire cable entertainment portfolio -- the most lucrative division, which generates approximately 50% of the media giant’s operating cash flow.
Hammer will be in charge of all entertainment cable television channels, including USA, Syfy, Bravo, E!, Style,Oxygen and the children’s channel Sprout. The management change becomes the third major organizational overhaul in two years in which NBCUniversal Chief Executive Steve Burke has sought to establish a more streamlined structure in a once-Balkanized company.
“Assembling our cable entertainment assets together in one group under Bonnie Hammer’s oversight is a logical and important step,” Burke said in an email to employees on Monday to announce the changes.
Burke, in an interview, said he has been impressed with Hammer in the two years they have worked together. Her fan base includes many of her lieutenants -- known inside the company as “Team Bonnie.”
“For a creative executive, Bonnie is as together and organized as anyone I have ever met,” Burke said. “She’s the whole package.”
Separately, Burke is hiring former top advertising executive Joe Uva to be responsible for the company’s Spanish-language media operation. Uva spent a rocky four years as chief executive of rival Univision Communications, following that company’s 2007 leveraged buyout.
On April 3, Uva will step into the newly created role of chairman of NBCUniversal Hispanic Enterprises and Content, with oversight of Telemundo and the small cable channel mun2.
The realignment appears to be a demotion for Lauren Zalaznick, who until Monday had been in charge of Telemundo and the prominent cable channel Bravo as well as Internet ventures, Fandango and Daily Candy.
When Comcast acquired control of NBCUniversal two years ago, Burke divided the cable television operation into two sprawling pieces, giving Hammer and Zalaznick each considerable turf. His goal at the time was to retain both Hammer and Zalaznick, whom he saw as key executives, during the transition -- even though it meant cleaving the company’s cable empire into two parts.
Burke said that Zalaznick’s new position -- becoming an executive vice president in charge of digital ventures -- was significant because the area is increasingly important, and infinitely complex. Zalaznick’s office will be next to Burke’s, and she will be given latitude to become involved in business strategy and other new ventures.
“Lauren is brilliant in a quirky way,” Burke said in the interview. “She has a very interesting way of thinking, and she is relentless in terms of getting things done.”
All three executives will report to Burke. Monday’s management realignment comes after Burke last summer streamlined the NBC News group. In 2011, four months after taking over, he realigned the NBC Sports properties.
NBCUniversal has seen its share of management moves. Just last week, NBC News President Steve Capus resigned, a decision that was foreshadowed last summer when Burke installed administrative executive Pat Fili-Krushel to be chairman of the NBCUniversal News Group, which includes MSNBC and CNBC. The move greatly diminished Capus’ clout.
“Now, more than ever, we need to simplify our organization and take advantage of the breadth of our assets,” Burke said.