According to the New York Post, Comcast’s upcoming acquisition of NBC from GE will also spell the end of Jeff Zucker’s reign as CEO, with the company expected to make him an exit offer of “roughly $30 million to $40 million” to stop it… just, stop it. GE has officially denied the reports, but Zucker himself has supposedly confirmed them privately. If they are true, Zucker will leave the network sometime in early 2011—and looking much worse for wear.
Since he took over in 2007, NBC’s profits have fallen steadily (down 28 percent over the course of just one year), and the network’s status as a fourth-place finisher has been secured by a string of questionable business decisions—not least among them the now-historic cautionary example of The Tonight Show, where Zucker will forever be known as the guy who fired Conan O’Brien as well as completely dismantled NBC’s primetime lineup to make room for The Jay Leno Show, losing advertisers and pissing off affiliates in the process, and painting NBC as a network in desperate search of an identity. (New York Magazine has an extensive breakdown of all the damage Zucker has done during his tenure that’s well worth reading if you enjoy statements like, “We are in an environment where the difference between first and fourth or second and third is incredibly minimal.”) Now that Zucker is on his way out, of course, he’s free to bring that unique combination of moxie and obstinate myopia to his fledgling political career.