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Jeffrey Shell to serve as Paramount president following Skydance merger

Former NBC Universal CEO Jeff Shell appears in an undated handout photo. (Photo by Broadcasting Board of Governors)
Former NBC Universal CEO Jeff Shell appears in an undated handout photo. (Photo by Broadcasting Board of Governors, Graphic by The Desk)

Former NBC Universal CEO Jeffrey Shell, who was fired by parent company Comcast following allegations of sexual harassment involving a CNBC reporter, will help lead Paramount Global following its merger with Skydance Media.

The affirmation was made on Monday when executives from Paramount and Skydance laid out plans for a merger, following months of back-and-forth negotiations on the matter. The deal would value Skydance at $4.75 billion and is expected to close in 2025, though another bidder could swoop in and grab Paramount during a 45-day “go-shop” window. It wasn’t clear if Paramount’s board was entertaining any other offers.

On a conference call with investors, Shell said the “creative engine” of Paramount was beloved, but that the linear business — including its broadcast and cable networks — still left a lot to be desired.

“Obviously a big chunk of the company is in the linear world — and we know that linear is challenged and declining,” Shell said on the call. “I think a lot of us in the business know we’ve got to run these businesses in a different way as they decline.”

The comments suggest Paramount may continue forward with a plan first revealed by the company’s co-CEOs last month that could see it significantly reduce the number of broadcast and cable channels offered in its platform. Paramount owns the CBS broadcast network, as well as a number of cable channels that were previously incorporated into MTV Networks, including MTV, VH1, Comedy Central, BET, Nickelodeon, TV Land, Paramount Network, CMT, Logo, Pop TV, Smithsonian Channel and Showtime.

Paramount also owns several international linear broadcast networks, including Channel 5 in the United Kingdom, Network 10 in Australia and Telefe in Argentina. Executives have been relatively quiet on whether the company intends to continue supporting those channels, none of which are leading TV outlets in their respective markets.

Over the past few years, Paramount has tried to address the shift away from broadcast and cable TV toward streaming by launching, and building out, its cornerstone service Paramount Plus, which now includes Showtime in its premium package. It has also nurtured Pluto TV, which was acquired by predecessor Viacom, by incorporating more TV shows and movies from the Paramount catalog of intellectual property and launching the service overseas.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a nationally-recognized, award-winning journalist who has covered the business of media, technology, radio and television for more than 11 years. He is the publisher of The Desk and contributes to Know Techie, Digital Content Next and StreamTV Insider. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, the Walt Disney Company, McNaughton Newspapers and Tribune Broadcasting.

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