Linda Yaccarino to Join NBCU as Dave Cassaro Departs

Turner Veteran Yaccarino May Be Looking for Broader Duties

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Linda Yaccarino
Linda Yaccarino

NBC Universal is looking to bolster the ranks of its ad-sales team.

Comcast veteran Dave Cassaro, who assumed responsibility for all of NBC Universal's cable ad-sales when the Philadelphia cable giant took majority control of NBCU from General Electric early this year, is leaving the company, according to people familiar with the situation. His departure comes as NBCU is poised to add a well-known executive, these people said: Linda Yaccarino, who has managed the sales of advertising on the entertainment networks of Time Warner 's Turner cable division for years.

Ms. Yaccarino's departure from Turner was announced yesterday. The news about Mr. Cassaro's depature and Ms. Yaccarino's arrival at NBCU was first reported earlier today by the New York Post and MediaPost. An NBC Universal spokeswoman said executives at the company were not available for comment.

Ms. Yaccarino's precise role at NBCU remains cause for some speculation. While there are some indications she would take over Mr. Cassaro's responsibilities, one person familiar with the matter suggested that she had been looking for a broader portfolio than the one she had at Turner, and that her NBCU position might grant her that wish. At Turner, Ms. Yaccarino also had oversight of program acquisition.

By several recent accounts, Mr. Cassaro had fared well in his role. As he entered this year's upfront market, ad buyers said the sales executive had a lot of leverage, given NBCU's broad portfolio of cable networks and the robust performance of such stalwarts as USA.

In 2010, before Mr. Cassaro assumed oversight of cable sales, USA drew nearly $1.1 billion in ad dollars, according to Kantar, up 1.6% from 2009. SyFy drew approximately $343.8 million, notching a gain of 6.8%. And Bravo drew around $179.6 million, mustering a gain of around 9.1%, Kantar said.

This is not the first time a Comcast-controlled NBCU has dipped into the Turner well. Mark Lazarus, a former president of Turner Entertainment Group, is now chairman of the company's sports-media operations.

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