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NBC cancels annual affils' confab

NBC has cancelled its annual May affiliate convention, saying it is time to "replace this anachronistic practice with a communications strategy that better serves all of us."

That's the way NBC-TV president Randy Falco and network affiliate relations head John Damiano put it in a letter sent to affiliates late yesterday. The annual conference, which in previous years was more celebration and dog-and-pony show (NBC held three-day gatherings twice in Maui, Hawaii in the 1980's), will be replaced with a short meeting at the NAB convention and two regional meetings later in the year. The NAB and regional meetings will focus on one or two key issues, with those agendas ultimately set with feedback from affiliates, NBC said.

In their letter, the executives said the restructured meetings were designed to improve communication between the network and stations. It "does not represent a disengagement from the affiliate body on NBC's part," Falco and Damiano said. And it's not just about costs, although cost is a factor: "Given our financial goals and the current uncertain economic environment, we thought it would be best to replace this annual gathering with alternatives that enable us to focus with new intensity on growing our respective businesses." - Steve McClellan