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NBCUniversal CEO resigns over relationship with colleague

Jeff Shell

The chief executive of NBCUniversal has left the US entertainment giant after acknowledging “an inappropriate relationship” with a colleague, parent company, Comcast announced Sunday.

“Today is my last day as CEO of NBCUniversal,” Jeff Shell wrote in a statement, acknowledging a relationship “with a woman in the company.”

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“I’m truly sorry I let my Comcast and NBCUniversal colleagues down, they are the most talented people in the business.”

Comcast said in a statement that it came to a “mutual decision” with Shell for him to step down “effective immediately” and “following the company’s investigation led by outside counsel into a complaint of inappropriate conduct.”

NBCUniversal owns a broad portfolio of television news and entertainment networks, a motion picture studio, theme parks and a premium streaming service.

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Shell, 57, had been with the New York-based conglomerate for just under two decades, and had served as CEO since January 2020.

Earlier in his career at Universal Films, Shell oversaw some of the studio’s biggest franchises such as Fast & Furious and Jurassic World.

The website of financial news channel CNBC, a part of NBCUniversal, cited unnamed sources as saying the complaint against Shell “was filed by the woman with who Shell shared the ‘inappropriate relationship.’”

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Shell is the second senior executive to leave the company in the past three years over inappropriate conduct, and as Hollywood continues to clamp down on previously unchecked misbehaviour by its moguls.

In 2020, the company’s vice chairman Ron Meyer left the company after admitting to having an affair and paying the woman a settlement.

Comcast is due to report its first quarter financial results on Thursday morning. Analysts will be closely watching the results of its streaming platform, Peacock, which has struggled to compete with rivals Netflix and Disney+.

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Entertainment giants are facing increasing pressure to maintain growth of subscribers for their streaming services.

Disney announced layoffs of 7,000 employees in February after the storied company founded by Walt Disney saw its first ever fall in subscribers.

For its part, arch-rival Netflix last week said its number of subscribers hit a record high of 232.5 million in the first quarter of the year, posting a quarterly profit of $1.3 billion.

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