NBC Universal is expected to announce that longtime General Electric executive Mike Pilot will replace Keith Turner as president for advertising sales at the media business, sources said. Mr. Pilot’s name began circulating in ad sales and buying circles on Friday after Mr. Turner announced his plans to leave NBC after nearly 20 years. An announcement could be made as early as Monday, sources said. NBCU officials declined to comment and a GE spokesman did not respond to calls seeking comment. Mr. Pilot has worked as president of GE’s Capital Solutions, U.S. Equipment Financing unit, where he oversaw almost $30 billion in assets. He is credited for coming up with sales strategies that reinvented a 30-year-old business, resulting in a 44 percent increase in retail volume and a doubling of net income in the last two years. In a memo Friday, Mr. Wright said Mr. Turner is leaving “to pursue opportunities outside the company.” Mr. Turner’s exit follows the departure last month of Randy Falco, president and COO of the NBCU Television Group, who became chairman and CEO of AOL, and David Zaslav, former president of NBCU’s cable division, who left last month to take the CEO job at Discovery Communications. -Jon Lafayette
Gamer Special Coming to CBS
Watching gamers play with their Xbox is about to hit the broadcast waves, with the World Series of Video Games cutting a deal with CBS to air a one-hour special Dec. 30 called “They Got Game: Stars of the World Series of Video Games.” Video game tournament coverage has cropped up on GSN, ESPN, MTV and USA, but this marks the first time a broadcaster has gotten in on the act. The special will help promote a new video-game series on College Sports Television, a 28 million-home cable network purchased by CBS last year. “This is an alternative sport that’s finally being recognized in broadcast circles,” said Matt Ringel, president of WSVG. The deal follows CBS’s airing of a “60 Minutes” segment last January on professional gamer “Fatal1ty” that attracted strong viewer interest.
Mandel to Head Nielsen Connect
Jon Mandel, the outspoken head of WPP Group’s MediaCom, was tapped last week in a startling move by private-equity research powerhouse VNU to head its Nielsen Connect unit. Mr. Mandel was hired by CEO David Calhoun, a rising star at General Electric Co. before signing on with the Dutch media- and consumer-research provider to bring a fresh perspective to its tangled mass of 300-plus subsidiaries. Mr. Mandel’s mission: Find useful new linkages within a marketing-metrics-and-analytics empire that includes Nielsen Media Research TV ratings, ACNielsen retail-scanner and consumer-panel data, Nielsen//NetRatings online measurement and Nielsen Buzzmetrics online-buzz measurement among many others. “There’s such a plethora of information within this place that can all be cross-connected. [We’ll be] making it into concise information that clients can use to make decisions going forward and to analyze how they did looking back and to rejigger the next step,” Mr. Mandel said.
-Jack Neff, Advertising Age
Markey Opts for Telecom Panel Post
U.S. Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., who sponsored V-chip legislation and has a long history of interest in media issues, has decided to head the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s telecom panel rather than take the chairmanship of the House Resource Committee, which looks at energy issues. Rep. Markey headed the telecom committee, technically called the Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, from 1987 to 1994 and has been the ranking Democrat since. Besides sponsoring V-chip legislation, he was a co-author of the Children’s Television Act, the 1996 rewrite of telecommunications law and the Cable Act of 1992. -Ira Teinowitz
Season Highs for First-Run Series
From “Wheel” to “Access” to “Alex,” an array of series from each of the first-run genres all climbed to new season highs for the second full week of the sweep, even while most of the syndicated strips held even or dipped slightly for the week ending Nov. 19. “Geraldo at Large” scored big off the O.J. Simpson controversies, building a 13 percent jump week-to-week to a new all-time high for the series. The strip not only scored a best-ever 1.7 average audience rating but also earned double-digit gains in every one of the key female demographics. Newsmagazines also saw NBC Universal’s “Access Hollywood” rise 8 percent to a 2.8 in both week-to-week and year-to-year comparisons, good for its best week since Jan. 30. The series also earned gains in all of the key female demos. -Chris Pursell