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Exclusive: NBC Switches Top 'Today' Ad Salesman

As the Today show
settles into second place behind ABC's Good
Morning America
, NBCUniversal has put a new executive in charge of selling
ads on the once-dominant franchise.

David Barrington, a VP at NBC News Group Sales, who had been
a top salesman for MSNBC, now has the unenviable task of pitching the Today show, along with NBC's other high-profile
news broadcasts, Meet the Press and NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams.

According to a network spokesman, Barrington is essentially
switching jobs with another NBC News Group ad sale VP, Tom Stevens, who will be
selling MSNBC, the cable news channel.

Today was the top
morning news show for 16 years, winning the ratings race every week. But so far
this season, Good Morning America is
leading Today in the adults 25-54,
the key demo for ad sales for most news programming. ABC says its lead over Today is the biggest in more than 21

That long spell of dominance translated into success in ad
sales. In 2011, Today generated ad
sales of $485 million in ad revenue during the 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. time slot,
according to reports. That is in comparison to $299 million for Good Morning America.

With Good Morning
taking over the ratings lead, ABC will try to get some ad dollars to follow. NBC
will also face a challenge in maintaining its pricing, since the
highest rated shows in a category usually command a premium and ABC will be
aggressively looking to boost its rates.

year, the Today show dumped Ann Curry
as cohost with Matt Lauer, replacing her with Savannah Guthrie. Executive
producer Jim Bell was also replaced.

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.