NEW YORK — Poor ratings from Nielsen and angry complaints from NBC affiliates have convinced NBC to end the experiment of rerunning each episode of “Late Night With Conan O’Brien” in primetime on CNBC 30 days after it plays on the broadcast network at 12:35 a.m.
Starting May 19, the replacement show for “O’Brien” will be a same-night repeat at 10 of “The News With Brian Williams,” which is the flagship series on CNBC’s sister network MSNBC at 9 p.m.
But not all NBC affiliates are dancing with joy at the programming change. Mike Carson, general manager of WHDH, the NBC affil in Boston, said, “Brian Williams is an NBC star, which means he’s a star of my TV station. But NBC has also become totally committed to its cable networks, and when it uses NBC stars like Brian Williams, it’s lifting cable on the backs of its affiliates.”
In a statement, CNBC said the Williams move is a temporary stopgap “while the network continues a variety of primetime programming-development projects that will eventually replace it.” CNBC declined to be more specific, although sources said it has talked to the KABC radio talkshow personality Larry Elder about taking over the timeslot.
CNBC also said it will develop a “final-edition” business show every night at 7 for the fall of 1997. Jack Reilly will relinquish his title of VP of business news to become executive producer of the new 7 p.m. show.
Bruno Cohen, senior VP of programming for CNBC, will shift to senior VP of business news. Bridget Potter, senior VP of entertainment programs, East Coast, for NBC Entertainment, will add the duties of acting senior VP of primetime programming for CNBC until the network finds a permanent successor to Cohen.