Silverman leaving NBC to head multimedia venture

Ben Silverman will be leaving his job as co-chairman of NBC Entertainment and Universal Movie Studios to head a new venture with Barry Diller's IAC/InterActiveCorp focusing on producing and distributing multimedia content.

NBC named Jeff Gaspin, president and chief operating officer of the company's cable entertainment group, to replace him. Gaspin also will keep his current duties as the new chairman of NBC Universal's television entertainment unit.

At NBC, Silverman did little to pull the network out of its fourth-place status, although he was handicapped by a strike by TV writers. His legacy is likely to be more about striking deals with advertisers than leaving behind memorable programming.

IAC said Monday it is forming a new production company led by Silverman that will look to bring advertisers further into the development process on new media products.

In an interview, Silverman said the company will develop content and marketing across every medium, "from Twitter to television." He said the idea is to break out of the old media paradigm that centered on the 30-second TV spot.

"Attention is the toughest commodity to harness," he said. "To get people's attention you have to disrupt, you have to make things part of the culture, not just part of the marketing."

IAC hopes to take advantage of Silverman's broad media experience in the new venture.

He helped produce the "The Office" and the reality series "The Biggest Loser." Before joining NBC, he launched his own independent production company, Reveille.

Diller, IAC's chairman and chief executive, called the new company, "a next generation enterprise that bridges the gap between traditional television and the Internet."

IAC said it will provide an undisclosed amount of initial capital but hopes to spin the venture off into a separate entity. The company launches formally in September.

Silverman, who started as co-chairman of NBC in June 2007, said IAC will continue to have a relationship with the network through its new company. He plans to stay on for the next few weeks to help with the transition.

General Electric GE has 80% ownership of NBC Universal, with French media and telecommunications company Vivendi SA controlling 20%.