Both NBC and its affiliates board spoke positively of their
annual meeting in New York today (Jan. 21), saying both parties are happy to
move ahead after the recent Jay Leno-Conan O'Brien drama and work together on
issues such as retransmission consent.
NBC affiliates board chairman Michael Fiorile said the
board-and, presumably, most of the affiliate body-is looking forward to seeing
Jay Leno back in his old Tonight Show role. "I think everybody's pretty
happy about that," he said. "NBC went ahead and made the decision and made it
quickly, and we're appreciative."
Fiorile also said the board is optimistic about a potential
Comcast ownership. (For the record, the potential Comcast ownership was not discussed during the meeting.) Comcast has made a point of stating its commitment to local
television as it endures the long wait for the massive deal to be OK'd in Washington. "From what
we see and what we hear about their commitment to over the air, to localism, to
a continued affiliate-network system," he said, "we're feeling pretty good."
How to maximize retrans earnings was also on the agenda, but
both the network and board reps said those talks were in the early stages.
"We're having a dialogue with a cross-section of affiliate groups large and
small," said NBC TV Network and Media Works President John Eck. "We're trying
to craft a template to have meaningful conversations with individual groups.
It's been very constructive."
NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams paid a visit
to the meeting, and shared some of what he saw in Haiti in the last week.
With the Olympics around the corner and NBC putting the
Leno-at-10 experiment in the rear-view mirror, both parties were optimistic
about the future. Eck went out of his way to praise the affiliates. "It's been
a great dialogue since the time I've been associated with the relationship in
this way," he said. "It's a very, very positive and engaged relationship."