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NBC, Affiliates Work Toward Long-Term Commitment

Some 182 NBC affiliates met with the network in New York Monday (May 17) following NBC’s upfront presentation at the Hilton. The meeting covered the long-term viability of the network-affiliate relationship, as both parties work toward a business model that would allow affiliation agreements to go for up to 10 years. While the affiliates board has discussed that possibility with NBC for some time, the group assembled in Manhattan moved closer to ensuring both parties’ long-term involvement with the other.

Outgoing chairman Michael Fiorile said he was “encouraged” the parties would come to mutually beneficial affiliation terms.

The group also discussed mobile DTV efforts, and welcomed a new affiliates board chairman in Brian Lawlor, who succeeds Michael Fiorile. NBC TV Network President John Eck thanked Fiorile for his hard work since taking over the chairmanship since 2008, and called him a great friend, a great partner, and a great leader of the affiliates community. Fiorile was a key figure on several affiliate issues, most visibly The Jay Leno Show’s weak numbers at 10 p.m. last fall, and the drag it had on stations’ late news.

Fiorile stays on the board as chairman emeritus.

Lawlor, who’s the senior VP of television at Scripps, credited NBC for investing heavily in primetime. NBC unveiled 14 programs, most of them dramas, at its upfront presentation Monday. He said NBC has set the standard in news and sports, but today showed that it’s serious about getting back in the primetime game with top producers and what looks like, at least in trailer form, high-quality dramas and comedies.

“Show in and show out, it’s obvious the commitment NBC has made,” Lawlor said. “It’s a great feeling to be back on track.”
Several key affiliate managers were impressed by the upfront presentation too. “It’s the best we’ve seen from NBC in a long, long, long time,” said Post-Newsweek President/CEO Alan Frank.