Jeff Zucker's Troubled Legacy at NBC

He's got the golden parachute, but few valedictory tributes

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According to the New York Post, embattled NBC Chief Jeff Zucker has secured a golden parachute worth between $30 and $40 million. Though General Electric (NBC's parent company) denies it, anonymous sources tell the Post the package "has been finalized." For media observers who have watched NBC's ratings slip (and programming falter), any word of special treatment adds insult to injury to those who remember the network's glory days. Here's how media columnists are reviewing Zucker's legacy at NBC.

  • I Want Zucker's Job! writes Jay Yarow at Business Insider: "We will never cease to be amazed at how much big media CEOs are paid.  It also doesn't seem to matter whether the decisions they make are any good. Jeff, for example, is currently being paid $23 million per year to run NBC into the ground. Can we be the next CEO to be pushed out of NBC, please?"
  • His Reign Was No Blessing for the Network, writes Sean O'Neal at the A.V. Club: "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."
  • Think About How Good NBC Was Pre-Zucker, writes Paul Wachter at Politics Daily: "He's failed to introduce shows into the prime-time lineup that can draw ratings the way former NBC hits such as 'Seinfeld,' 'Friends,' and 'ER' once did. Even with the boost from this year's Winter Olympics coverage, NBC's prime-time ratings this season were down 4 percent from last year with the key 18-49 demographic. And NBC trails CBS, Fox and ABC in the ratings among all prime-time viewers. Given such a track record, many wonder how Zucker could have survived as long as he did in the top spot, let alone stand to be rewarded for his failures with a fat send-off check."
  • He Wasn't All That Bad, writes Jon Friedman at MarketWatch: "Zucker's defenders point out that NBC's cable properties are doing well. NBC's news programs continue to dominate their time slots, too. The failure in late-night has overshadowed Zucker's successes at NBC, where he was appointed executive producer of the 'Today' show when he was only 26 years old. In 2003, he was named the president of NBC's Entertainment, News & Cable Group."
  • I Know How Zucker Lasted So Long, jokes humorist Andy Borowitz: "For years there has been a commonly held theory that Jeff Zucker has a video of GE Chief Executive Jeff Immelt cavorting with a goat, and he has threatened to put it on the air. But I think this is a far-fetched theory, since Zucker has never put anything interesting on the air."
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