NBC Senior Executive Andrew Lack Will Take Over

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NEW YORK ( -- A surprise shakeup at two major media companies -- General Electric's NBC and Sony Corp.'s Sony Music Entertainment -- has NBC senior executive Andrew Lack taking over for longtime Sony Music executive Tommy Mottola.

Executive friction
Sony Music Entertainment announced the appointment of Andrew Lack to chairman-CEO, a day after Mr. Mottola said he was leaving the company to launch his own music label and branding company. Sources said there was friction between Mr. Mottola and Howard Stringer, chairman-CEO of Sony Corp. of America -- especially recently, as Sony's share of the music business has dropped in an overall declining recording industry.

Mr. Lack, 55, who was president and chief operating officer at NBC since 2001 and president of NBC News before that, was the assumed heir apparent to Bob Wright, chairman-CEO of NBC. But according to insiders, the two executives did not get along.

Industry analysts said Mr. Wright gave up some power to Mr. Lack when Mr. Lack was appointed the network's president. Mr. Lack was in charge of news, networks, TV stations, advertising sales and cable networks CNBC and MSNBC. Recent problems at MSNBC -- due to low ratings and weak advertising sales -- may been part of the reason behind Mr. Lack's departure.

"Andy has made significant contributions to NBC's success over the last decade," Mr. Wright said in an internal memo released five hours after the Sony announcement Friday. "Particularly in leading our news organization to preeminent position."

Fate of other execs not known
Mr. Lack's departure leaves

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the fate of executives who worked under him in question, particularly Neil Shapiro, president of NBC News, and Eric Sorenson, MSNBC's president and general manager. MSNBC was Mr. Lack's pet project and is currently running a distant third among all news networks behind Fox News and CNN. In a 2002 end-of-the-year memo, before the Christmas holiday, Mr. Wright thanked all business units in the NBC portfolio, including Bravo and new acquisition Telemundo, but left MSNBC out.

Media executives said the move opens a clear path for Jeff Zucker, president of NBC Entertainment, to possibly assume a bigger role at the network. However, according to internal NBC memo, Mr. Lack will not be immediately replaced; instead all NBC executive heads will report to Mr. Wright, with the exception of Jim McNamara, who is president of Telemundo.

A spokesperson for NBC News divisions did not return phone calls at press time.

Prior relationship
Mr. Lack has known Mr. Stringer for many years during their time together at CBS during the 1980s. He held many top level executive jobs at CBS News, including senior posts at CBS Reports and newsmagazine West 57th Street. He became president of NBC News in 1993.

Meanwhile, observers said the changing of the guard at Sony Music reflects needed changes in the music industry as a whole. The business has been hammered by losses during the past few years, largely due to the proliferation of new technologies such as CD burners and music download Web sites, which make it possible for consumers to get their hands on music cheaply or free.

Collaborating with advertisers
The industry has already begun to collaborate more closely with advertisers in order to make up for retail losses. Recently, Mr. Mottola struck a long-term marketing deal with DaimlerChrysler's Chrysler Group. New artists are selling their songs to commercials, concert tours are sponsored by advertisers, albums are released in conjunction with a brand sponsorship, and more music artists are appearing in commercials.

"Andy Lack has real understanding and connections in the advertising business, both with clients and agencies," said David Verklin, CEO of Aegis Group's Carat North America. "He understands that world, and I believe that is where the music industry is going. It will be managed much more like a business, like a media company, then like an art form. And the business will become more collaborative with commercial interests."

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