NBC, which cancelled its D.C. holiday party last month due to the tanking economy, found a way to entertain staffers anyway.
It’s innaugural brunch at the National Museum of Women in the Arts Monday was filled with staffers from NBC-owned WRC-TV Washington, as well as its Washington news and government relations folks and visitors from New York.
Among the mroe notable attendees noshing on sushi and blintzes were Brian Williams, Tom Brokaw, Matt Lauer, and Al Roker.
In fact when the three-piece combo providing the jazzy soundtrack to the brunch launched into “Over the Rainbow,” it reminded me that the last time I saw a similar collection of NBC brass was a Tim Russert’s memorial service at the Kennedy Center when that rainbow appeared across the sky for all at the reception afterwards to make of what they would.
I looked up from my noshing to see Luke Russert walk by, completing the arc of the moment.
Hosting the party were NBC U President Jeff Zucker and GE Chairman Jeff Immelt. Zucker grabbed the microphone to annouce that a Tim Russert scholarship has been created for a student who combines Russert’s passions for journalism, politics and public service.
He then passed it to his boss, Immelt, who pointed out that staffers would wake Wednesday to the toughest economy in their lifetimes, and advised them to be ready to get back to work.
Among the politicians in the room were new House Energy & Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, both of whom have proposed bills to try to provide more money and time for the DTV transition.
Sanders said that he was still concerned about the thousands of people who were going to lose reception. He said he hoped to get some of the $650 million in the economic stimulus packaged earmarked for the DTV converter box coupon program for his proposal to subsidize rooftop antennas or low-cost cable service to keep viewers hooked up to local TV after the transition, whenever it occurs.
He said he thought the DTV date would be moved, joining Waxman in that belief.
One veteran consumer electronics executive said he was disappointed the date might be moved, but said he understood it might need to be done to take care of some viewers. He also said it could be tough to gauge demand, since production and inventory of the boxes was geared to the Feb. 17 transition date. He said some stores were starting to take the converters on consignment, not wanting to be stuck with inventory.
The room was generally in an upbeat mood about the changeover in FCC leadership. Chairman Kevin Martin has ruffled more Washington feathers than a hurricane in a henhouse. While the jury isn’t even seated on a possible Julius Genachowski chairmanship, one executive who said he goes back a ways with the Barack Obama tech adviser and former FCC staffer was looking forward to a new management style.