NBC management was close to firing Olbermann in November
On Thursday, NBC’s news division staged an elaborate presentation for advertisers, seeking to sell commercial time in NBC’s news programs over the next year. All the members of MSNBC’s prime-time lineup spoke at the lunch with one exception: Keith Olbermann, the network’s biggest star.
For the last several weeks, Mr. Olbermann and the network have been in negotiations to end his successful run on MSNBC, according to executives involved in the talks who requested anonymity because the talks were confidential. The deal was completed on Friday, and Mr. Olbermann made the announcement on his final “Countdown” hours later.
Friday’s separation agreement between MSNBC and Mr. Olbermann includes restrictions on when he can next lead a television show and when he can give interviews about the decision to end his association with the news channel.
The executives involved in the discussions confirmed that the deal carries limitations for Mr. Olbermann in terms of when he can next work on television, though he will be able to take a job in radio or on any forum on the Internet. The deal also prohibits the host from commenting publicly on the deal, the executives confirmed
Mr. Olbermann had butted heads with his superiors long before the Comcast deal, including Phil Griffin, the top MSNBC executive. According to several senior network executives, NBC’s management had been close to firing Mr. Olbermann before, most recently in November after he revealed that he had made donations to several Democratic candidates in 2010