Open Letter to Jeff Shell, President of NBC Universal
Mr. Jeff Shell
Chairman, NBC Universal International
January 14, 2013
Dear Mr. Shell:
On behalf of the Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting (CUSIB), we respectfully request for you to decline the nomination to serve as the Chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors if you choose to remain as Chair of NBC Universal.
This request is not intended to mar your reputation in any way. You are considered one of the most competent media executives in the world, which is probably why you were selected. However, CUSIB has serious concerns about your nomination and the inevitable conflicts of interest that will arise if your nomination is approved by the U.S. Senate. These conflicts include the inability for you to either disregard the financial benefits to NBC Universal, or disregard the struggle for media freedom in areas of the world where governments violate human rights and oppose democracy and free speech.
As Chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, your commitment would require you to support the BBG’s Mission statement: “To inform, engage, and connect people around the world in support of freedom and democracy.” If you remain as Chair of NBC Universal, your commitment to your NBC Board and to your NBC shareholders must certainly require you to do your best to expand the commercial business interests of NBC Universal. We expect that there will be conflicts of interest in nations such as China, Russia, Iran, Tibet, and Cuba, and it is also expected that your commitment to NBC Universal may take precedence.
This position, we believe strongly, also requires a full-time chairman. If you stay at NBC Universal, it would be impossible for you to give this job time and attention it needs. We would hope that the nominees who serve at the BBG would be former corporate heads of international media with equal caliber as yourself, human rights experts, or professionals who have the necessary experience to serve but won’t have to struggle with how to compromise the advancement of media freedom and private corporate goals.
This decision is not an easy one for you to make, but if you do choose to decline, it may send a message to others who face similar conflicts of interest and will give them the fortitude to realize that these positions require much more than corporate experience but an impartial and burning desire to help millions of people in nations where media freedom is denied.
Thank you for your consideration and we look forward to your reply.
Ann Noonan, co-founder and Executive Director
Ted Lipien, co-founder and Director
The Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting (CUSIB) is a nonpartisan, nongovernmental organization working to strengthen free flow of uncensored news from the United States to countries with restricted and developing media environments.