NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell was ousted from his role after an ‘inappropriate relationship’ with CNBC news anchor Hadley Gamble, sources have said.
Deadline reported that Shell began a relationship with the international correspondent some 11 years ago, continued on and off until it ended ‘a couple of years ago’.
Comcast announced on Sunday that Shell would leave the company following an investigation by external counsel.
Shell, who is married to Laura Fay Shell, admitted he had had an ‘inappropriate relationship’ with a member of staff, which he said he ‘deeply regret[s]’.
NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell (pictured in June) has been ousted from his role after he admitted to having an ‘inappropriate relationship’, reportedly in breach of company policy
Gamble, CNBC news anchor, is alleged to have had an ‘inappropriate relationship’ with Shell
Jeff Shell is pictured with his wife Laura Shell at the Emmy Awards in September 2022
Hadley Gamble is CNBC’s senior international correspondent, based in the UAE.
During her Access segment she speaks to world political and business leaders, including Mike Pompeo, King Abudullah II of Jordan and Egyptian President Abdel Fatteh el-Sisi.
In 2021, Gamble interviewed Russian President Vladimir Putin, who said she was too ‘beautiful’ to understand a point he had made about energy.
After the interview, body language experts claimed Gamble was flirting with Putin as a distraction tactic.
Gamble made light of the situation, uploading a photo to Instagram of her pointing to an article in Russian publication Kommersant on the interview, captioned ‘my best angle’ with a laughing emoji and #feminism tag.
Gamble’s alleged relationship with Jeff Shell was exposed during an investigation by an outside counsel following a complaint lodged against Shell.
Deadline reported that Shell and Gamble had communicated by company email, as revealed during the investigation.
In a company memo about Shell’s departure, it was reportedly claimed the affair had violated company policy.
Shell’s team will now report to Comcast President Mike Cavanagh, CNBC reports.
Shell is married to Laura Fay Shell, who previously worked for Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky.
In a statement, Jeff Shell said: ‘Today is my last day as CEO of NBCUniversal. I had an inappropriate relationship with a woman in the company, which I deeply regret.
‘I’m truly sorry I let my Comcast and NBCUniversal colleagues down, they are the most talented people in the business and the opportunity to work with them the last 19 years has been a privilege.’
Cavanagh and Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said in their own joint statement: ‘We are disappointed to share this news with you.
‘We built this company on a culture of integrity. Nothing is more important than how we treat each other. You should count on your leaders to create a safe and respectful workplace.
‘When our principles and policies are violated, we will always move quickly to take appropriate action, as we have done here.’
Shell’s departure comes at a critical time for NBCUniversal and Comcast.
Their streaming service, Peacock, launched in April 2020 and has made progress, but is still much smaller than services backed by industry rivals.
In the fourth quarter, Peacock surpassed 20 million paid subscribers but lost nearly $1 billion on an adjusted basis, the company said.
Mike Cavanagh, who was appointed president of Comcast in October, will take over from Shell
CNBC’s Middle East anchor Hadley Gamble at the new Middle East Headquarters Abu Dhabi Global Market on April 15, 2018 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
NBC’s logo pictured at Universal Studios in Florida. Shell oversaw the theme parks in his role
Shell has been at Comcast for over 20 years, having joined the company from Fox.
He ran international operations out of London from 2011 to 2013 before moving to serve as chairman of NBCUniversal Film and Entertainment.
He took over as CEO in January 2020, and was responsible for overseeing a sprawling portfolio that ran from news and entertainment TV networks, to the film studio, theme parks and other divisions.
As NBCUniversal CEO, Shell was also charged with moving the company more heavily into streaming.
Shell is the second senior executive to be forced out of NBCUniversal in recent years.
In April 2020, NBCUniversal said it had parted with vice president, Ron Meyer, after he failed to properly disclose he had paid a settlement to a woman with whom he had a consensual affair several years earlier.
Shell said at that time that Meyer ‘acted in a manner which we believe isn’t consistent with our company policies or values.’