NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell fired after CNBC anchor alleges sexual harassment
Updated April 25, 2023 at 10:27 AM ET
Comcast ousted the former head of NBCUniversal, its vast entertainment and media business, after corroborating a female employee's allegations of inappropriate conduct including sexual harassment, the company said in a securities filing Monday.
Jeff Shell had worked at Comcast for 19 years. In a brief statement on Sunday, he apologized for an "inappropriate relationship with a woman in the company," and said he was "truly sorry" for letting down colleagues.
Reports over the weekend identified the woman as Hadley Gamble, a CNBC anchor and international correspondent.
"The investigation into Mr. Shell arose from a complaint by my client of sexual harassment and sex discrimination," said Suzanne McKie, an attorney for Gamble, in a statement provided to NPR.
"Given these circumstances, it is very disappointing that my client's name has been released and her privacy violated," she added.
According to a person with knowledge, Gamble filed the complaint recently, and the company acted within days of the complaint.
Comcast has not named a successor to Shell, and announced that NBCU's senior managers would now report directly to the president of the Comcast, Mike Cavanagh.
Cavanagh said he was "disappointed to share this news" in a separate statement signed by himself and Comcast CEO Brian L. Roberts, the son of the Philadelphia-based company's founder. "We built this company on a culture of integrity," Roberts and Cavanagh wrote. "You should count on your leaders to create a safe and respectful workplace."
Shell took on the NBCU CEO position in January 2020, succeeding Steve Burke just weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic devastated large swathes of the company's revenues, across news programming, entertainment networks, movies, and theme parks.
He joined Comcast in 2004 from Fox's cable division, and served as head of international operations in London before also chairing the company's film and entertainment division.
Allegations of sexual misconduct loom large at NBCUniversal. In 2020, Vice Chairman Ron Meyer was pushed out after disclosing that he had paid hush money to an actress with whom he had had an affair.
In 2017, NBC fired Today show host Matt Lauer after accusations he had sexually harassed colleagues, including an instance of assault, all claims Lauer denied.
David Folkenflik contributed reporting.
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