With 50 entertainment reporters listening in on a conference call last week, NBC West Coast President Scott Sassa proclaimed NBC the winner of the key adults 18-49 race in the November sweeps, but he failed to deflect or put an end to numerous questions about the long-term future of his top lieutenant, NBC Entertainment President Garth Ancier.
After Ancier answered a handful of questions about his future at the network, Sassa was asked directly if Ancier had a vote of confidence from NBC brass. Sassa replied with a long-winded answer that failed to address the issue.
"Here's the trick to that question: When I worked for Turner, every week we were rumored to being bought or buying another company and the day that you start answering that question and you don't answer that question, is the day that you get in trouble," Sassa said. "Because the day we were going to merge with Time Warner and all of sudden it was no comment versus a no, it was a big difference. So from a company point of view, you can't be out there saying support or no support or whatever, because sometime in the future, under different circumstances, you can't play that game of publicly being out there, because by the absence of your answer may be an issue."
Asked to clarify that by the same reporter, Sassa replied, "I'm not going to comment on any specifics. We never have commented on people in the past and we won't do it in the future."
On a Hollywood panel at the outset of the season, Ancier, along with the top programmers from the other broadcast networks, were all asked to rate their job security on a scale of 1 to 10. Ancier, who is known for being a straight-shooter, gave himself a five; most of the other network heads claimed higher numbers.
"I probably made a very big mistake in the way I answered that question," Ancier now says. "I thought since all of my colleagues were saying on a scale of one to 10 that they were nines and eights, that I would be a little more humble about it and say I'm a five, 50-50."