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NBC adds Bravo to its cable holdings

Nov 11, 2002  •  Post A Comment

NBC has added Bravo, the arts and entertainment network, to its cable holdings in a deal worth $1.25 billion that was wrapped up over the Nov. 2 weekend.
Although the development of crossover NBC-Bravo projects, running the gamut from reality shows to entertainment series and specials, was mentioned in the announcement of the deal, NBC Chairman and CEO Bob indicated the emphasis will be on developing material suitable for only Bravo, which comes with three years worth of programming commitments, including off-network rights to “The West Wing” in the fourth quarter of 2003.
Insiders expect Jeff Gaspin, the former VH1 programming executive who is in charge of NBC’s alternative series, longform and program strategy, to be closely involved with the programming of Bravo under the oversight of NBC Entertainment President Jeff Zucker. Such announcements, Mr. Wright said, are likely to come before the end of the year, when he expects the acquisition to be finalized.
“Jeff Gaspin has shown a lot of interest in this,” Mr. Wright said. “He’s got a whole lot of ideas. And he sees every day, from his current NBC seat, projects that he would have gone after at VH1, as an example, that don’t work for NBC. He’s seeing stuff today that we don’t have a place to deal with. And they’re not projects that would fit in with MSNBC, either, and they certainly don’t fit in with CNBC. I think NBC can be a field marshal helping to enhance the programming of Bravo without being just focused on pushing programs from NBC to Bravo.”
Repurposing “will not be a major focus of Bravo,” Mr. Wright said.
That will come as good news to affiliates. Roger Ogden, the chairman of NBC’s affiliates board and general manager of Gannett-owned KUSA-TV, said “if [the acquisition of Bravo] is what it takes to be competitive in the development process, then it’s a good thing,” but he also said that affiliates remain “concerned” about quick-turnaround repurposing.”
Cablevision Systems Corp., which owned 80 percent of the 22-year-old, 68 million-subscriber Bravo, is getting stock in NBC’s parent, General Electric Co., and the 53.2 million shares of Cablevision Class A common stock (which represents about 16 percent of Cablevision’s common stock) that had been NBC’s equity stake in Rainbow Media Holdings, which also includes American Movie Classics, the Independent Film Channel, the Madison Square Garden Network and regional news and sports channels.
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which owned 20 percent of Bravo, is getting $250 million in cash.