Jeff Shell, the CEO of NBCUniversal, has been fired after admitting to having an “inappropriate relationship” with a CNBC anchor. According to sources, the relationship was exposed during an investigation by an outside counsel after a complaint against him. Shell, who is married, has been with the company for a total of two decades. He ran the media giant’s entertainment wing and left with Comcast’s Peacock streaming service struggling to keep up with competitors. Comcast’s president, Mike Cavanagh, will take over Shell’s duties until a replacement is named.
NEW YORK POST: NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell ousted over ‘inappropriate relationship’ with CNBC anchor Hadley Gamble
By Alexandra Steigrand & Jorge Fitz-Gibbon; April 23, 2023
NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell was ousted after admitting “an inappropriate relationship” with a CNBC anchor at the media giant, parent company Comcast said Sunday.
The alleged affair was exposed during an investigation by an outside counsel after a complaint against him, according to sources.
“Today is my last day as CEO of NBCUniversal,” Shell said in a statement Sunday. “I had an inappropriate relationship with a woman in the company, which I deeply regret.
“I’m truly sorry I let my Comcast and NBCUniversal colleagues down,” the statement said. “They are the most talented people in the business and the opportunity to work with them the last 10 years has been a privilege.”
The woman Shell had an affair with was identified by Deadline.com as anchor and senior international correspondent Hadley Gamble. The outlet said the pair started a relationship 11 years ago and continued sporadically for years.
Shell, who is married, has been with the company for a total of two decades.
He ran the media giant’s entertainment wing and left with Comcast’s Peacock streaming service struggling to keep up with competitors, the Wall Street Journal said.
Peacock clocked more than 20 million new subscribers in the fourth quarter but still lost nearly $1 billion, the newspaper said.
Comcast did not reveal details of Shell’s relationship with the staffer, or identify her role in the company.
Gamble previously made news when she was accused by Russian state media of acting like a “sexual object” to distract Russian President Vladimir Putin, with state outlets even suggesting she was part of a US “special operation.”
The allegations came after she interviewed Putin at a Russian Energy Week panel in Moscow in October 2021. Vladimir Soloviev told his state radio show back then that Gamble distracted Putin with her “sex appeal,” while propagandist Dmitry Kiselyov accused the veteran journalist of having “behaved boldly, openly positioning herself as a sexual object,” according to a translation from a 2021 Daily Beast report.
Olga Skabeeva insisted Gamble must be part of a US “special operation” to target Putin, the outlet reported.
Before taking over as CEO in January 2020, Shell served as chairman of NBCUniversal’s Film and Entertainment, where he was charged with creating content and overseeing programming at various operations.
That included film and network businesses, such as the company’s Spanish-language Telemundo network.
In May 2020, Shell cut senior management salaries by 20% and rolled back pay for employees making more than $100,000 a year by 3% to stave off financial losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Shell rose to the top job at NBCUniversal after former CEO Steve Burke resigned in December 2019.
Under Burke, revenue rose to nearly $35.9 billion in 2018, up from almost $31.4 billion in 2016, according to Securities and Exchange Commission filings.
A replacement for Shell as CEO has not been named.
Mike Cavanagh, Comcast’s president, will take over Shell’s duties until a replacement is named, with NBCUniversal’s TV and streaming head, Mark Lazarus, and theatrical operations boss, Donna Langley, reporting directly to Cavanagh during the transition.
Shell is just the latest media industry exec to leave their post amid scandal — among them NBCUniversal vice chairman Ron Meyer, who resigned after revealing that he was being threatened with extortion by a former paramour.
Last year, CNN president Jeff Zucker suddenly quit after admitting a relationship with another executive at the news network — which came to light during a probe into former CNN anchor Chris Cuomo.
And former CBS boss Les Moonves resigned in 2018 after multiple allegations of sexual misconduct were made public.