BBG Watch has learned that President Obama has re-submitted to the U.S. Senate the nomination of Jeff Shell, Chairman, NBCUniversal International, to be the Chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), the federal agency in charge of U.S. international broadcasting. Shell was first nominated last September to serve on the Broadcasting Board of Governors, but because his nomination was not scheduled for confirmation by the Senate, it had to be re-submitted to the new Congress. There has been yet no official White House or BBG announcement on Jeff Shell’s re-nomination.
The Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting (CUSIB – cusib.org) has expressed concerns about NBCUniversal International’s business interests in Russia and China and urged Shell not to accept the nomination if his private sector job would affect his independence as BBG chairman. CUSIB said, however, that Shell has outstanding qualifications for leading the BBG if there would be no conflicts of interest.
Governments of Russia and China try to restrict U.S. international broadcasting to their countries. A BBG Chairman whose private employer has business interests in countries that censor local and foreign media may be placed in a difficult position when foreign governments object to hard-hitting journalism from U.S. international broadcasters like the Voice of America (VOA), Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), and Radio Free Asia (RFA). CUSIB is also concerned that as a successful and busy private media executive, Jeff Shell may not be able to devote enough time and attention to his government service duties as the BBG Chairman.
BBG Watch has learned that Shell offered to discuss with CUSIB these concerns.
The following information about Jeff Shell is posted on the NBC website:
“Jeff Shell is Chairman, NBCUniversal International. He is based in London and reports directly to Steve Burke, CEO of NBCUniversal. Jeff is responsible for overseeing the operations of all NBC Universal International businesses, including International TV Distribution, Global Television Networks and International Television Production. He also oversees, in partnership with their domestic leaders, CNBC International, International Theatrical Marketing and Distribution, International Home Entertainment, and International Theme Park Operations. In addition to managing the day to day operations for the Company outside the U.S., Jeff is responsible for identifying and executing all international growth opportunities for both NBCUniversal and Comcast Corporation overall.
Prior to joining NBCUniversal, Jeff served as President of Comcast Programming Group, where he managed Comcast’s interests and investments in its national and regional television networks. These networks included the Comcast Entertainment Group, comprised of E! Entertainment Network, Style Network, G4, the Golf Channel, PBS KIDS Sprout, VERSUS, TV One, International Channel networks, and Comcast Sports Group, which operated 11 regional sports networks. Under Jeff’s leadership, Comcast’s networks grew dramatically in distribution, viewership and profitability during his six year tenure.
Prior to joining Comcast, Jeff was CEO of Gemstar TV Guide International, where he successfully navigated Gemstar through a number of legal and operational challenges. Before joining Gemstar, he held a number of positions within News Corporation including President of the FOX Cable Networks Group, where he oversaw the operations of FOX’s entertainment and sports cable programming businesses, including FOX Sports Net, FX and the National Geographic Channel. Jeff also worked in the Strategic Planning Group at the Walt Disney Company and at Salomon Brothers Inc.
Jeff received his Bachelor of Science degrees in Economics and Applied Mathematics from the University of California, Berkeley and his MBA from Harvard University. He currently serves on the boards of several non-profit organizations, including the National Constitution Center, and is an active leader in a number of organizations that are working on public school reform.
Jeff, his wife Laura, and their daughter Anna live in London but continue to avidly support the Philadelphia Eagles, the Los Angeles Dodgers, and the California Golden Bears.”