NBC considers news options

Net finds a repurpose

Maybe, just maybe the nightly newscasts on the networks will find a way to get more exposure for themselves.

NBC, for one, is looking at the possibility of rerunning its flagship 6:30 p.m. show later in the evening, probably on sister net CNBC. So says NBC U TV Group topper Jeff Zucker, who made the comment after an HRTS luncheon in Beverly Hills Tuesday.

Move would be in keeping with NBC U’s ongoing strategy of repurposing its programs for its various outlets. The Peacock already reruns “Late Night With Conan O’Brian” and “The Apprentice” on CNBC.

A number of pundits have suggested in recent months that network news needs a rethink in the wake of Dan Rather and Tom Brokaw’s exits — and in the wake of wholesale desertion by younger viewers.

Zucker was there to interview onstage his recently anointed anchor Brian Williams, who put the emphasis on the seriousness of his mission while at the same time keeping his remarks witty and his demeanor relaxed.

Williams said he basically shared his predecessor Brokaw’s “small-town world view” but felt he brought a different cadence and personality to the job.

He stressed that the 30 million viewers who tuned in to the Big Three newscasts were still “an impressive number,” but that he and his colleagues were taking cable, Internet bloggers and the like more seriously — “we try to embrace their findings, if they are verifiable.”

Williams stressed that some things cable goes wild over are just too tabloidy or trivial for NBC. For instance, the Peacock is not assiduously “doing the Michael Jackson trial,” but rather focusing on the big issues. He told reporters, who also quizzed the anchor onstage, that he’d continue the tradition of traveling the country to report news and of highlighting hot spots around the world.

He also said his entire staff had been given the CBS report into Dan Rather’s flawed story about President Bush’s National Guard service as required reading.

Despite his own sense of humor, Williams indicated he’d find it difficult to lighten the tone of the traditional nightly newscast: “There’s not been much place for it since 9/11,” he said.

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