Peacock plans for more affil groups to join coalition

NEW YORK — NBC has formed a syndication development and distribution alliance among its owned-and-operated stations, Gannett Broadcasting and Hearst-Argyle Television.

While station groups have previously banded together to buy programming, deal marks the first time a syndication television consortium will develop and own programs together.

The combined stations, which include eight of the top 10 markets, represent 60% of the country.

Under the 10-year NBC affiliate renewal contract that Hearst-Argyle signed with NBC in July, a stipulation was made to jointly develop pilots for firstrun syndie TV series.

And NBC Network prexy Randy Falco said NBC plans to ask more affiliate groups to eventually join the coalition.

“This partnership represents the kind of forward thinking we hope to pursue with all of our affiliates,” Falco said.

If all NBC affiliated stations came on board, covering nearly 100% of the country, it would nullify the need for a traditional, domestic syndie sales force, revolutionizing the way syndie shows are distribbed.

“This partnership opens the door to a whole new approach to the daytime syndication model,” said NBC Television Stations president Jay Ireland.

At a press conference Dec. 6, the partners highlighted the fact that they will have the ability to greenlight new shows by ensuring distribution in 60% of the country. The three groups are anticipating that this will attract top talent.

“We want to attract talent that historically has not seen syndication as an alternative,” said Ed Wilson, president of NBC Enterprises and Syndication, which will oversee syndication of the shows the partnership develops.

The consortium’s first project, “The Other Half,” a one-hour daytime talkshow, will be presented at NATPE in January. Described as a male version of “The View,” looking at women from men’s eyes, show is slated for a fall 2001 debut. Dick Clark, Danny Bonaduce, former model Steve Santigati (“Extra”) and Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Dr. Jan Adams are tentatively skedded to host.

Due to time commitments, not all stations in the consortium will carry “The Other Half” at launch, but the partners anticipate full participation by 2002.

One of the biggest upsides of the new venture is the ability to develop programming based on stations’ needs.

“When you have the potential to greenlight a project immediately, you’re going to greenlight the project that station groups have the greatest enthusiasm for and the greatest need for,” said Bill Carroll, vice president, director of programming, Katz Television Group.

Another plus: If a show bombs, they won’t be obligated to continue airing it. “We would pay for performance,” Ireland said. “If a show is unsuccessful, we won’t show it anymore.”

Syndicators generally want a commitment of at least one year for new shows. Theoretically, the trio’s partners said, they could replace a flagging show midseason.

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