SBJ/July 9 - 15, 2007/This Weeks News

Mehta will leave ESPN, sources say

Salil Mehta, one of ESPN’s highest-ranking executives, is leaving the company to take a senior position with NBC, multiple sources say.

Mehta, who was executive vice president of ESPN Enterprises, appears set to take a senior executive role with NBC, where he would report directly to NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker.

The move is not yet official, as Mehta still is under contract with ESPN. Executives in Bristol, Conn., would not confirm Mehta’s pending departure, simply saying that Mehta “is still an ESPN employee, and his future responsibilities are to be determined.”

Insiders say top ESPN and Disney executives were surprised by Mehta’s decision. Sources say ESPN and Disney brass are disappointed by the planned move and have asked senior executives not to talk publicly about it.  NBC would not confirm the move, and Mehta did not return e-mail and phone messages.

Mehta joined ESPN in July 2005 after being at Disney. In his two years he oversaw all non-TV platforms, including ESPN.com, ESPN360, ESPN The Magazine and ESPN Books.

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