Gray TV Chief Says Comcast Might Be Good for NBC

Gray TV President/COO Robert Prather says network went "cheap" on Leno

With the Comcast-NBC Universal deal inching closer to completion, Gray Television President/COO Robert Prather said the cable colossus might be a good parent for the network.

In an interview with B&C, Prather conceded that he couldn't venture a guess as to what Comcast would do to get NBC moving in the right direction, but he said the company's track record had it well-positioned to run a broadcast network. "Comcast is a well-managed company that knows the television industry and knows programming," he says.

Ten of Gray's 36 stations are NBC affiliates.

Prather is hopeful a new owner will help NBC get its once considerable mojo back. "It's my impression that the networks take turns being No. 1 [over the decades]," says Prather. "NBC got knocked off its perch and didn't want to keep fighting."

The Gray chief did not back off on his biting comments about The Jay Leno Show during an earnings call Nov. 9, reiterating that he believes NBC's 10 p.m. experiment is a bust.

"I think they tried to get by with something on the cheap," he says. "It's not working and it's eventually going to hurt all of the affiliates in terms of their late news lead-in."