NBC, affils to work together


New Orleans -- In another sign that networks and affiliates are trying to work together
following a particularly contentious stretch, NBC affiliates, meeting at the National Association for Television Programming Executives' show,
moved to create a "futures" committee that will work with NBC to figure out
business opportunities they can exploit together.

Word of the committee was reported by Roger Ogden, who runs Gannett Co. Inc.'s Denver
NBC affiliate and who is chairman of the NBC TV affiliates board of governors.

The committee will ponder ideas such as opportunities that might stem from
NBC's ownership of Telemundo Communications Group Inc. and cable networks and its alliance with Paxson Communications Corp.

It will also address longer-term issues, like how to take full advantage of
the digital spectrum.

At the meeting, NBC laid out a schedule for the Athens Olympic Games in 2004.

One notable difference is that NBC will air live coverage of top events from
12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m.

In the past, the network has opted to carry most Olympics on a tape-delayed basis,
saving the best for prime time.

But NBC Television Network president Randy Falco said that for Athens, the
network believes there will be enough high-demand content to go live in the
afternoon and have a taped prime-time package that will generate big ratings, as

"We wouldn't do anything to jeopardize the high ratings in prime time that
our advertisers have come to expect," Falco said.

The network took some heat for airing a Fear Factor promotion that's
become known as the "horse rectum" promo, which affiliates believed was more
offensive than the segment it was designed to promote.

NBC Entertainment president Jeff Zucker told affiliates that in hindsight,
he realizes the promo went too far and his promo people would try not to
step over the line of appropriateness again (although with a show like
Factor, that's obviously going to be a constant challenge).

Buttonholed after his presentation, Zucker was asked what he thought of CBS'
announcement that it would produce The Late Show with David Letterman in
high-definition TV starting in September.

NBC's Tonight Show with Jay Leno has been airing in high-def for
several years now.

"I'd just like to welcome David Letterman to the 21st century," Zucker