Network is our most important asset, Falco sez

LAS VEGAS — NBC affils were assured over the weekend the Peacock’s marriage with Universal won’t diminish the net’s devotion to its broadcasting empire.

Peacock dispatched its top execs to Las Vegas for Sunday’s affiliate session, including NBC Television Network Group prexy Randy Falco and NBC Entertainment, News and Cable prexy Jeff Zucker.

“Hopefully, we assured the affiliates that the relationship is paramount to us,” Falco said after the affil sesh, which coincided with the NATPE syndication show. “The NBC Television Network is our most important asset. All good things flow from the network.”

Merger with Universal is expected to close this spring.

Roger Ogden, NBC affiliates advisory board chair and general manager of KUSA-TV in Denver, said there were no burning controversies or issues broached at the affil meeting. Much of the session was spent talking about the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens and the FCC’s upcoming vote on multicasting secondary digital channels.

Affils also were briefed by NBC News prexy Neal Shapiro on the retirement of “Nightly News” anchor Tom Brokaw, who will turn over his seat to Brian Williams sometime after the November prez race.

Ogden said affils want to make sure both the network and local stations use resources to promote the transition. That could easily include visits from Williams to various affils.

“Certainly, Brian has paid his dues in a variety of ways,” Ogden said.

Briefing the affils on the Olympics was NBC Sports chair Dick Ebersol, who was on his way to Athens.

Falco said the net has sold 70% of its Olympic ad time, taking in more than $700 million. Ogden said the pace of Olympic media buys for larger stations is quicker than for stations in smaller markets.

A new net-affil initiative will give participating stations a chance to have their station brand and call letters integrated into NBC’s Olympics Web site. Stations will pocket the advertising dollars generated by their position on the Web site.

When it comes to multicasting, NBC and the other nets want Washington to order cablers to carry secondary digital channels. The FCC is expected to vote on the issue in the coming weeks.

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