NBC Chief Predicts Major TV Fall-out from Writers' Strike

23 January 2008

HOLLYWOOD: Without doubt LaLa land's lustre has been dimmed by the US screen writers' strike, but NBC Universal ceo Jeff Zucker views it as a golden opportunity to change the way the television business is run.

In a interview with UK business daily, the Financial Times, he says he will not only end long term contracts but will also pull the plug on the advertising upfront presentations and the annual pilots season.

Declares Zucker: "Things like that are all vestiges of an era that's gone by and won't return."

He expects to make an announcement "very soon" about the next upfronts, scheduled for May. He says NBC will meet advertisers one-on-one at that time.

Despite initial gloomy predictions of viewers deserting TV because episodes of their favourite drama series or comedy show remain unwritten, General Electric-owned NBC says its audience share has risen.

Cheap-to-produce reality shows have filled the gaps in schedules and proved a hit with viewers, signalling a sea-change in the future of the medium.

Zucker continued: "I think there were a tremendous number of inefficiencies in Hollywood and it often takes a seismic event to change them, and I think that's what's happened here."

  • Meantime, NBC appears to have cosied-up again to Apple Computer, following a pricing and piracy dispute which resulted in the TV company withdrawing its shows from iTunes.

    Zucker now proclaims: "We've said all along that we admire Apple, that we want to be in business with Apple. We're great fans of Steve Jobs."

    Data sourced from Financial Times Online; additional content by WARC staff