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Wright on Piracy: This Is War

"Network and local TV stations ad revenue is weakening," says NBC Universal Chairman Bob Wright. "The syndication marketplace is flat. DVR penetration is growing, leading to contentious debates about audience measurement and metrics for advertisers," a reference to the balking by numerous network at Nielsens new commercial ratings system.

That gloomy picture of the TV business was painted Wednesday for the Los Angeles World Affairs Council, and comes just a week after his company announced a restructuing and job cuts do deal with a dramatically changing marketplace.

But in his speech to the group, Wright was not all gloom and doom. He said there were also "huge opportunities for growth," particularly internationally and in the digital space, the latter which is what drove NBC to its announced shift in priorities last week.

But Wright's ultimate point was that both those growth areas are threatened by piracy, which he called on his Hollywood audience to fight as though it threatened the economic health of not just their industry, but the entire nation.

Wright has become the CAE (chief anti-piracy evangelist) for Hollywood, arguing that the TV and movie production industries are on the front lines of a battle for our economic security that he likens to the one the nation is currently fighting for its physical security.

In fact, Wright invoked Bob Woodward's appearance before the group earlier in the day.

"I began these remarks with a reference to Bob Woodward's latest book [State of Denial: Bush at War, Part III], which draws some strong conclusions about the state of our nation's physical security," said Wright. "What we know now is that our economic security rests on the shoulders of the intellectual property industries."

Wright said that when he suggested the connection between physical and economic security to some executives at NBC U, "I was accused of being melodramatic. Wasn't I overdoing it a bit? To which I responded: 'No, I'm not overdoing it.'"