Gray Television owns multiple affiliates of each of the big four networks, so Gray President knows something about dealing with the networks. He’s upbeat about how new owner Comcast is running NBC.
Asked about the new ownership of NBCUniversal at the UBS Leveraged Finance Conference in New York (5/19), Prather had a lot to say about Comcast.
“First, is Comcast going to do a better job of running NBC than GE? I think the answer to that is yes. I think they’re more committed to bringing new programming in. They’re more committed to spending money when they need to,” Prather said of the effort to rebuild the #4 network.
“I think on the other side of the coin, out of the three networks [along with ABC and CBS] over the last 10 years, they’ve probably been the most affiliate unfriendly. They seem to be trying to change that now. They just had their affiliate meeting here in New York early in the week and they really tried to go out of their way to let people know it’s a different sheriff in town, so to speak,” Prather told the investor conference.
“One of the things they’ve done, they’ve negotiated a tentative deal with the affiliates to try to negotiate as a group with the cable guys to get more out of the cable guys going forward. Here again, it remains to be seen whether that is going to work or not,” Prather said, apparently because NBC wants 80% participating by affiliates to go forward. He also noted that there may be some hesitation because Comcast itself is the biggest cable operator. “But I would say overall they seem to have an attitude of ‘we’re here for the long term and we want to do the right thing – we appreciate the affiliates and we want to do the right thing.’ That’s a much different attitude than they [NBC] had in the past,” Prather said.
Click here for RBR-TVBR’s interview with Brian Lawlor, chairman of the NBC affiliates board and head of the Scripps TV group, on that proposed partnership to negotiate retransmission consent payments.