NBC turmoil

By United Press International   |   Jan. 11, 2010 at 8:52 AM   |   Comments

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PASADENA, Calif., Jan. 11 (UPI) -- NBC announced an end to its prime-time experiment with Jay Leno and said the airing of the Winter Olympics will be a losing proposition for the broadcaster.

The network fashioned a 10 p.m. Eastern Time program for Leno, whom NBC removed from "The Tonight Show" in favor of the younger Conan O'Brien.

But the "The Jay Leno Show" didn't pull viewers as had been hoped and didn't provide network affiliates with a solid lead-in for late local news. So, Leno's program, which was going to be pre-empted during the Vancouver Olympics, won't return when the Olympic flame goes out in British Columbia.

NBC didn't announce what it plans to do with its late-night programming. Last week it was rumored Leno would be give a 30-minute program to air after local news and push the 60-minute "The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien" back a half-hour.

The network said it will lose money on its broadcast of the 2010 Winter Olympics, which run Feb. 12-28 in western Canada. NBC sports division chairman Dick Ebersol said the global economic slump hit advance ad sales, which lagged below expectations for the event.

Ebersol said final ad figures would be comparable to previous Games. But rights fees paid to the International Olympic Committee were substantially higher than those for the Winter Games in Italy in 2006.

NBC won the right to air the 2010 Winter Games and 2012 Summer Games in London with a bid of more than $2 billion.

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