Former Turner executive Mark Lazarus is about to rise again in the cable industry.
Sources say Lazarus will join the executive management team of Comcast-NBC Universal, heading the company's cable sports holdings upon completion of the merger, government approval of which is expected to come before year's end.
Lazarus has been working as president of media and marketing for Atlanta-headquartered Career Sports & Entertainment, a full-service sports and entertainment shop specializing in TV production, corporate sponsorships and client representation, since August 2008. He left Turner seven months earlier after serving as president of the programmer's Entertainment Group.
Sources indicate that Lazarus would lead Comcast-NBCU's cable sports portfolio, with oversight of national sports network Versus, Golf Channel and the regional sports networks. The executives heading those operations, Jamie Davis, Earl Marshall and Jon Litner, would report to Lazarus.
In turn, Lazarus would report to Dick Ebersol, who was named chairman of the NBC Sports Group as part of the executive management structure that was officially unveiled on Nov. 18 by Steve Burke. The Comcast COO will become CEO of NBC Universal when the deal gains approbation from the U.S. Justice Department and the Federal Communications Commission. After the transaction closes, Comcast will own 51% of NBC Universal, and current owner General Electric Co. will retain 49%.
Officials at Comcast and NBCU could not immediately be reached for comment on Friday night.
Lazarus could not be reached by press time.
Sources indicate that Burke wanted Ebersol to hire a strong leader for the cable sports operation, which until recent days was not expected to include the RSNs.
Rather, the eight RSNs -- CSN Bay Area, CSN California, CSN Chicago, CSN New England, CSN Northwest, CSN Philadelphia, CSN Mid-Atlantic and SNY -- were going to be tied with the company's local media properties. CSN Houston, which recently secured TV rights to Major League Baseball's Astros and the National Basketball Association's Rockets, is scheduled to launch in 2012.
At Turner Entertainment Group, Lazarus managed all programming, original content, production, sales and marketing for TBS, TNT, Turner Sports, Cartoon Network, Turner Classic Movies and Tru TV (formerly Court TV) and their attendant digital businesses.
Lazarus would bring extensive experience and contacts in the sports community to the new job. As president of Turner Sports, he negotiated the cable rights to the NBA, NASCAR, MLB, Wimbledon and the British Open and also acquired the Internet rights to NASCAR.com, PGATOUR.com and PGA.com.