Risky Business

Editor, VARIETY:

As a journalist, I’ve always wondered how anyone in our profession could quote a person directly without talking to him or obtaining written documents authored by the person in question.

After reading the story by David Kissinger “quoting” what I allegedly had to say about the quality of “The Nightly Business Report” (VARIETY, Dec. 31), I’m stunned and infuriated. I don’t know Mr. Kissinger, I’ve never talked to him, and I don’t know who his alleged “PBS sources” are, but at the very least I’d like to set the record straight.

Yes, I was a consultant to “The Nightly Business Report” in 1990, helping develop a grand strategy for taking a highly successful program and building it into a major franchise in the next decade. The outlines of that detailed business plan have already been announced.

Most notably, “NBR’s” extraordinarily talented co-host and executive editor, Linda O’Bryon, is now running a new entity, NBR Enterprises, with a master plan to put “NBR” into the business-news video publishing business in a major way. It’s an enormous challenge. As with other famed news executives who left their on-air or news production posts to devote themselves fulltime to the business side of news (Bill Sheehan, Howard Stringer come to my mind), Ms. O’Bryan is following in well-known footsteps.

That with this change she is now the highest-ranking female news executive in financial tv journalism is something that totally bypassed your Mr. Kissinger. That Ms. O’Bryon has helped mastermind the changes in “The Nightly Business Report” and has helped pick her successor was also overlooked by Mr. Kissinger.

Incidentally, Mr. Kissinger might have discovered, had he even watched the program, that it is not a PBS show, but is distributed by the Interregional Program Service. “NBR” is the only over-the-air daily business news program broadcast every weekday evening on national television… period, and it is not a PBS show, and never has been since it first went on the air in 1980! Over 260 public television stations elect to carry “NBR” five days a week, and a PBS source might not be the best person to talk to about “NBR.”

Incidentally, my name and my business telephone number are both listed in the Manhattan White Pages should Mr. Kissinger, in the future, care to call before quoting me for publication..

David Kissinger, whose sources in the story quoted Hubert, replies: As a journalist, Mr. Hubert surely understands that sometimes it’s necessary to protect sources. As to my calling “The Nightly Business Report” a “PBS show,” I regret any negative connotation Mr. Hubert seems to feel that phrase contains. It seems to me no less accurate than calling “The Cosby Show” an NBC show, though it’s produced and owned by the Carsey-Werner Co.

Dick Hubert, New York

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