The network entertainment chiefs debated the state of their business's
financial health at an IRTS luncheon in New York on Wednesday.
"The business is broken in terms of economics," said NBC
Entertainment president Jeff Zucker. While there's no "magic bullet" to fixing
it, Zucker said the networks have to have the discipline to not make mistakes
that they've made in the past.
Examples: signing too many big name stars just for the marquee value and making time period commitments based on something other than the merits of the shows being scheduled.
Fox Entertainment president Gail Berman said the company
was "serious about cost cutting."
She said one sign of that was that the network would order few episodes of new shows in the future.
ABC Entertainment co-president Stu Bloomberg said the
ABC and Disney were looking at technical production costs carefully, including
alternatives to shooting on film.
But program development, he said, "is a scary place to cut back."
WB Entertainment president Jordan Levin said the
networks would probably continue to look for ownership interests in shows to
generate additional revenue streams.
He also said WB will finally turn a profit in the current fiscal quarter.
Separately, Zucker said both Fear Factor and Spy TV will return to the air and Bloomberg said The Mole would also return, probably in the spring or summer. - Steve McClellan