Pax tests NBC news

Rebroadcast plan irks many Peacock affils

NBC affiliates are once again crying foul as the Peacock announced plans to begin airing rebroadcasts of the “NBC Nightly News” on Pax TV.

In a one-month test, “NBC Nightly News” will air on all Pax outlets at 7:30 p.m. (ET) throughout May. According to NBC, Nielsen will allow the network to cume the show’s rating from both NBC and Pax broadcasts.

As a result, NBC Television Network prexy Randy Falco expects “Nightly News” to get a ratings boost of two-tenths to three-tenths of a ratings point — significant in the tight evening news race, when sometimes a tenth of a ratings point determines top prize.

The network will also be able to sell ad time on “Nightly News” based on the cume rating.

“Nightly News” is the latest NBC program to land on Pax, the family values netlet in which NBC took a 32% stake last year. The move is part of a larger plan to expand Pax as a “leading entertainment and information network.”

“Twenty-One” rebroadcasts have been airing on Saturday nights and some NBC-owned made-for-TV movies have already aired as well.

“We’re doing this in a very thoughtful way,” Falco said. “We’re not just recklessly going out there and repurposing every piece of programming we can put our hands on. We have as much to lose as anybody.”

If the experiment is deemed a success, NBC and Pax will go to upfront and sell it as a regular part of Pax’s schedule.

That has elicited concern from affiliates, who have expressed their dismay over repurposing. The topic dominated NBC affiliate gatherings last week at the NAB conference in Las Vegas.

“We wish they hadn’t done it,” said Alan Frank, general manager of WDIV Detroit and chairman of the NBC affiliates board. “Frankly, I don’t think it does anything to help anyone.”

Unsuccessful attempts

Frank pointed out NBC’s failed attempts to rebroadcast “Late Night With Conan O’Brien” on CNBC and “The Today Show” on MSNBC.

“When you look around they’ve tried this numerous times and it hasn’t worked,” he said.

Some NBC stations are in discussions with Pax about launching a joint-sales agreement with the local Pax station.

Eleven of NBC’s owned stations are already in the process of rolling out JSAs. Partnerships in New York; Los Angeles; Chicago; Washington, D.C.; Philadelphia; Miami; Providence, R.I.; Raleigh, N.C.; Hartford, Conn.; Dallas; and Birmingham, Ala.; will start up this summer.

Already, Pax’s Miami station is rebroadcasting NBC-owned WTVJ’s late newscast.

As NBC-owned stations and affiliates seal those JSAs, Pax stations will pair “Nightly News” with time-shifted local news broadcasts to form a news block at 7 p.m.

“It re-creates the news hour that exists between 6 and 7 p.m.,” Falco said. “We’re giving local stations both affiliated and owned a chance to repurpose their early morning, midday, early evening and latenight news.”

Plum for Pax

Jeff Sagansky, president and CEO at Paxson Communications, said the deal immediately puts Pax in the news business: “From a localism and advertising standpoint, this is very key to us.”

Despite their concerns, Sagansky said he believed NBC affiliates will eventually sign JSAs with Pax.

“In the short term, there might be some (NBC) affiliates that are upset (with the repurposing),” he said. “But in the long term, it’s a big economic win for them as well.”

Meanwhile, Pax will air U.S. Olympic team trial highlights starting June 3 at 9 p.m. Pax will air 28 hours of original events including archery, canoeing, fencing, marathon and other events.

Those lower-profile events were previously sold by NBC to cable outlets such as ESPN.

Additionally, Pax will air 10 more hours of Olympic trials in major events such as diving, gymnastics, swimming and track and field a week after they originally run on NBC.

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