The new NBCUniversal has moved to increase resources for its 10 NBC stations to compensate for underfunding by previous management, a top company executive said.
“The company took away investments in those stations,” said Ted Harbert, the chairman of the NBC broadcasting business.
Harbert said the Comcast-led leadership put $20 million into the business to hire more than 100 new employees and purchase news helicopters in New York and Los Angeles. Harbert also said one of the smartest hires he’s ever made was Valerie Staab, who now runs the stations.
At the NATPE event, he said there have been certain ratings improvements in New York and Washington and a more aggressive approach to news.
Harbert also said previous management did not focus on the daytime business as much as it should have. The station group has made commitments to pick up new syndicated shows with Jeff Probst and Steve Harvey for the fall. (It opted not to pick up Katie Couric’s forthcoming show.)
“What I really like is we’re out there doing something,” Harbert said.
At the NBC network, Harbert said among its troubles is low audience levels, it can’t promote its shows, making it difficult for even a strong creative effort to break through. “'Prime Suspect' wasn’t as bad a show as a 1 rating and ‘The Firm’ is not as bad a show as (the rating it is getting),” he said.
He said the network is counting on help from other NBCU assets, including cable channels, to promote the coming season two of “The Voice” and launch of “Smash.”