Jeff Zucker’s departure from NBC has set the stage for an all-out war among remaining top executives at the firm, pitting Mark Hoffman, who runs the CNBC business channel, against NBC News president Steve Capus, with the loser likely to leave the firm, FOX Business Network has learned.
It is no secret that Capus and Hoffman are more than just rivals inside the NBC; there’s also a degree of personal animosity between both men as well, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter. In recent weeks, as speculation swirled about Zucker’s departure following the completion of Comcast Corp.’s (NASDAQ:CMCSA) purchase of NBC Universal from General Electric (NYSE:GE), Hoffman has even made it clear to people inside the company that he isn’t reporting to Capus in whatever new corporate structure emerges.
But as frantic NBC employees digest the news of Zucker’s departure, senior people within NBC say the odds of survival weigh in Capus’s favor. Indeed, speculation swirled on Friday that Capus would get a promotion inside the company, and that Hoffman may be ousted, these people say.
“Mark is one of Zucker’s favorites so the conventional wisdom is with Zucker out, he’s next in line to leave,” said one person who regularly deals with NBC top executives.
A spokesman for Comcast had no comment.
While Zucker’s departure -- scheduled for after Comcast completes the purchase of its majority stake in NBC -- has been expected, the timing of it came as a surprise to both NBC staff and Zucker himself, FOX Business has learned. According to people close the matter, top officials at Comcast, including chairman and CEO Brian Roberts and chief operating officer Steve Burke, were growing uncomfortable with the drumbeat media reports, particularly those in the New York Post, which has been reporting for months that Zucker was on his way out. (FOX Business and the Post are both owned by News Corp. (NASDAQ:NWSA) and the author of this story previously worked for CNBC.)
“The Comcast people said enough is enough, were sick of the dribs and drabs,” said one person with direct knowledge of the matter.
And with that, Zucker was told he needed to announce that he was leaving the firm after the merger. Potential replacements for Zucker include Burke and former Showtime Entertainment president Robert Greenblatt.
But with the announcement came a new focus on the new management structure of the firm, namely who will take key jobs and who might be out of a job. Though sources say Comcast has not shared a new management structure with officials at NBC (it’s unclear if it even has one yet) inside NBC the betting is that Capus’s star is on the rise, and that Hoffman may be out.
One problem Hoffman has is that even though CNBC is profitable, the station’s ratings have fallen and stagnated after reaching a recent high point around the time of the 2008 financial collapse.