Zucker: Smaller Sales Won’t Affect Planned NBC Expenses

Jun 22, 2005  •  Post A Comment

Jeffrey Zucker, president of NBC Universal Television Group, said Wednesday no cutbacks are planned in programming or other scheduled expenses in the wake of its smaller-than-expected sales in the upfront advertising market.

“There is no panic or any sense of the bottom falling out,” Mr. Zucker said in an interview before addressing the Promax&BDA conference in New York.

He also said there would be no major personnel changes in NBC’s programming hierarchy.

NBC took in $1.9 to $2 billion during the upfront, down from $2.8 billion to $2.9 billion a year ago, and had to roll back its cost-per-thousand rates by 2 percent to 3 percent.

“We expected to be down,” Mr. Zucker said, although the market pushed NBC down more than the network expected. Now NBC Entertainment is beginning “a rebuilding process,” he said: “Everyone is aware of that.”

Mr. Zucker said NBC will be able to continue to invest in the programming it needs to make a turnaround and that parent General Electric is being “unbelievably supportive.”

Later, during a Promax session in which he was interviewed by NBC Agency Senior VP Frank Radice, Mr. Zucker said it had been a tough year for NBC. “We expected to suffer as a result of that and knew we were in for quite a setback,” he said. “Obviously it was a little more than we expected, and that’s OK because that’s something we as a whole company, NBC Universal, can deal with.”

He said the ability to ride out a tough year at NBC was “the whole point” of the NBC-Universal Entertainment merger. “The fact is the other assets of the company are in fantastic shape,” he said. “Those things do buoy you in a tough time, and we can withstand the current problems at NBC Primetime. It doesn’t make them any easier, it doesn’t make us any less competitive and want to fix it any faster. But the idea behind the merger and this newly combined company makes that more palatable.”