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5. NBC Television Stations

13 stations/26.66% of U.S.

At NBC, stations are succeeding with their early morning, early evening, prime time and late news programming, says Jay Ireland, president, NBC Television Stations. Daytime syndication, however, is another story. "We've got to work on the daytime side," says Ireland.

NBC thinks its newly formed syndicated programming development and distribution alliance with Hearst-Argyle Television, Gannett Broadcasting, and NBC Enterprises will help improve its daytime viewing. The deal, worked out last month, is aimed at giving stations more input into the development process.

Ireland sees the new partnership as the cornerstone of NBC's daytime syndication strategy. He says working with Hearst and Gannett gives the alliance an automatic launch vehicle (combined, the three groups represent 60% coverage of the U.S.). "We feel that this gives a guaranteed launch pad to any show we produce, so that we would be able to attract great talent."

Furthermore, Ireland says that the groups will work directly with NBC Studios to produce and develop programs that fit a station's needs. "It gives us the flexibility in a success or a failure to react appropriately," says Ireland. "One of the issues we have with the current syndication process is that it has not provided enough winners. That's why we feel great about this partnership. It will give us the capability to beat the odds."

The Other Half
is the alliance's first offering and will launch this fall. NBC stations are expected to carry it during a morning time period. In some cases it could replace Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus.
If The Other Half
works that would be great, says Ireland. And if it doesn't work, he adds, "the station group has a mechanism in place which we feel really good about."

As for any other additions in daytime, Ireland says NBC stations will pick up some shows "here and there but there won't be any groupwide deals."

As for the access time period, don't look for any changes. The stations have a strong lineup in access with Extra
and Access Hollywood.Access Hollywood
is performing well in the cities where it runs and the group is also pleased with Extra. And Ireland says the group is sticking with its early fringe schedule of Rosie O'Donnell
and Judge Judy
which air on almost all NBC stations.