Adding European pay-TV giant Sky to the Comcast stable would be “a good thing for everyone involved” and result in more trans-Atlantic cooperation in an increasingly challenging creative environment, said Paul Telegdy, president of alternative and reality programming at NBC Entertainment.
Comcast is locked in a battle with 21st Century Fox to own London-based Sky and currently has the highest bid on the table. “If we’re lucky enough, if this goes through, it would be a good thing for everyone involved,” Telegdy told the Edinburgh Television Festival on Friday. A Comcast-Sky marriage would lead to “what we all crave, which is more collaboration internationally and working with more partners in the U.K. It might be a great thing for us.”
He said NBCUniversal’s own absorption into Comcast had been successful because it brought on “management and leadership that really wanted to invest and wasn’t managing us in decline.”
Earlier, Telegdy said that the creative outlooks in the U.S. and U.K. shared similarities that make collaboration easier. “We are reassured by the British perspective,” particularly in the unscripted space, said Telegdy, a native Brit who has spent time working at the BBC.
He cited genealogy show “Who Do You Think You Are?” as a successful NBC adoption of a British format and ABC’s “Shark Tank” as the one that got away. The entrepreneur contest format began in the U.K., where it is known as “Dragons’ Den.” That show “would’ve worked for us,” Telegdy said.
In a speech billed as the Edinburgh festival’s “Worldview Address,” Telegdy also warned that we now live in an era where “the truth is under attack in a profound and truly astonishing way,” and that those in the creative industries bear “an additional responsibility” to communicate truth and be held to account.
“It’s a very important junction point in the creative industry I’ve chosen to work in,” he said.
His stint at the BBC taught him that “storytelling with responsibility could be a key to positive cultural change,” as well as “what it felt like to work somewhere with standards of truth, not just in news and current affairs, but also in storytelling – where there were consequences for making choices that don’t reflect the greater good.”
While the airwaves are filled with “perfectly entertaining” unscripted shows that manipulate or twist reality, “they’re not on NBC,” Telegdy insisted. What’s represented on NBC’s shows is “honest and truthful….Where we encounter producers who think it’s their job to mislead viewers, we resist it.”
He also acknowledged an intentional skew toward uplifting, feel-good programming at the network that brought viewers “This Is Us.” “It’s very unapologetic,” Telegdy said. “We’re relentlessly positive. Why? Because there are so many people being relentlessly negative, and we just choose to be the other way.”