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NBC News trusts changes

NBC News president Michael Gartner yesterday denied that an exclusive “Dateline NBC” interview with Amy Fisher was tied into the web’s telefilm on the story and said the elevation of Jeff Zucker to supervise both the “NBC Nightly News” and “Today” reflected a desire to “de-layer the place.”

Gartner, flanked by Zucker and exec VP Don Browne for a satellite interview, said the “Dateline” segment with Fisher “worked in everybody’s favor,” adding, “A lot of people watched the show, so it must have been interesting.”

He stressed that the exclusive had nothing to do with the entertainment division’s movie, which was based on Fisher’s story via a rights deal with the convicted felon. Despite the assumption in some quarters that Fisher granted the interview because of that deal, exex said NBC News pursued Fisher irrespective of that and reiterated that the news division doesn’t pay for interviews.

Zucker said he has no specific agenda for changing the third-place nightly newscast, except perhaps to put more emphasis on news of the day and less on features.

Gartner opened by trumpeting the increased programming output by the news division and that “we now make money.” Over the past year, NBC News has added an overnight news service, Saturday edition of “Today,” expanded “Meet the Press” and established two regular prime time hours, “Dateline” and “I Witness Video.”

During an earlier session, NBC Sports said it has sold out ad time, at $ 800, 000 to $ 850,000 per 30-second unit, on its Jan. 31 Super Bowl telecast, and that the web will try to hold the half-time show down to 22 minutes–about a third shorter than recent years–to limit second-half tune-out.

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