Even a cynic would be hard-pressed to disagree that NBC boss Jeff Zucker expressed some serious loyalty to the network-affiliate model when meeting with affiliates today, despite reports of networks skipping stations by going directly to cable.
“Since we last met in Los Angeles, it’s been reported here and there that NBC is looking to get out of the over-the-air broadcast business … that we’re not interested in renewing affiliation agreements … that NBC is looking to go direct to cable.
“It’s not true. Not true.
“Let me set the record straight once and for all. Standing here on the stage of one of the most famous broadcast studios in the world–created for radio, rebuilt over the years for television, then color TV, then digital broadcasting–let me be as clear as I can be: We are not abandoning the business of broadcast network television. We are not going direct to cable. We are renewing affiliation agreements. And we are going to be in business together for a long, long time.”
Zucker did add that the relationship has to evolve, a nod toward the three-tiered approach to network-affiliate relations that NBC unveiled today.
NBC affiliates board chairman Michael Fiorile says the affils appreciated Zucker’s direct language. “It set a very positive and productive tone to the meeting,” he said.
Fiorile also said the affiliates board, which met yesterday, got pretty far along on talks to partner with NBC’s Weather Channel in some form. “I’m optimistic there’s a deal to be made,” he said.