Elaborating on NBC's recent programming snafus, Jeff Gaspin, chairman of NBC Universal Entertainment, admits: "We probably took too much out of the broadcast TV business."
Speaking at the National Association of Television Program Executives meeting in Las Vegas, Gaspin said NBC was lured by the attraction of big profit margins that NBC Universal's cable networks -- USA Network, Syfy, Bravo, Oxygen, CNBC and MSNBC -- have churned out.
"To some extent, that came at a cost of our investment in NBC," says Gaspin.
For many financial reporting periods, NBC Universal touted profits from its cable networks as the company's real growth businesses -- with the NBC network an ever-decreasing part of the overall picture.
That said, Gaspin reiterated what NBC Universal chairman Jeff Zucker's ongoing sentiment has been about how the press views NBC Universal.
"We are continually amazed," he said. "About 5% of our profits come from NBC, but 95% of the perception about us comes from NBC. I am consistently amazed at how much the press covers broadcast, even though it has less influence on the industry than cable."
Gaspin's acknowledgment of NBC's recent high-profile programming blunders -- putting "The Jay Leno Show" at 10 p.m. and giving Conan O'Brien the hosting job of the "Tonight Show" -- followed Zucker's admission of mistakes recently on "The Charlie Rose Show" on PBS and Bloomberg Television.
Going forward, Gaspin says the creative community is coming around to view NBC in a better light. After NBC's announcement in the spring that it was cutting back on scripted programming at 10 p.m., some TV producers soured about dealing with the network.
Gaspin says the network is now at work with major TV producers David Kelley and Jerry Bruckheimer on their next projects -- targeting the 10 p.m. time period following Leno's departure in a couple of weeks.
He said he hoped such efforts would rebuild NBC's back-end programming business -- especially for its syndication division -- NBC Universal Television Distribution.
Talking about the broadcast business in general, Gaspin said: "If you choose your shows well, it is a sound business model."