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NBC tries to catch up to new media realities

Alisa Roth May 30, 2007


LISA NAPOLI: TV executives are getting ready to start selling ads for the fall season. Now they’ll have something else to pitch: a new chairman. Thirty-six year old Ben Silverman has been named co-chair of both NBC Entertainment and NBC Universal Television Studio. Alisa Roth reports he’s got a big job ahead of him.

ALISA ROTH: Ben Silverman is responsible for introducing Americans to shows like The Office and Ugly Betty. He’s also produced a bunch of reality TV shows. But the reality of his new job is likely to be tough — business is bad in Peacock Land these days.

The network has come in a distant fourth in the last three seasons. And in that time, ad revenue has fallen by about $1 billion. Media blogger and journalism professor Jeff Jarvis says Silverman’s challenge is to adapt the medium.

JEFF JARVIS: They’re still addicted to the blockbuster economy, because that’s the way they’ve always run. But in the long-tail world, you really can’t depend on having nothing but hits anymore — and you’ve got to figure out new ways to create more programming that lives both on the air and online.

Silverman will replace chief programming executive Kevin Reilly, who was pushed out just three months after signing a new contract.

In New York, I’m Alisa Roth for Marketplace.

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