New York -- NBC will continue to expand its cable presence,
and those plans include launching a digital CNBC spinoff in the next few months, according
to David Zaslav, who was promoted and named president of NBC Cable last week.
NBC -- which is restructuring as a result of NBC Cable
president Tom Rogers' pending exit -- divvied up Rogers' duties last week. In
addition to Zaslav being appointed president of NBC Cable, NBC Interactive Media president
Marty Yudkovitz was put in charge of NBC's Internet and Digital Media interests. And
CNBC president Bill Bolster was given the added responsibility of CNBC's
Zaslav has served as president of NBC Cable Distribution
since April 1996, and his duties will now expand beyond distribution to crafting overall
strategy for NBC Cable, which includes MSNBC and CNBC. Zaslav will continue to report to
NBC president Bob Wright, as he has in the past.
According to Zaslav, Wright remains committed to continuing
to increase NBC's presence in cable by building on the company's existing
businesses and by partnering with others. NBC already owns stakes in A&E Television
Networks and Rainbow Media Holdings Inc.
NBC is also in a partnership with News Corp.'s Fox
Entertainment Group and the National Geographic Society -- a joint venture that not only
owns National Geographic Channels internationally, but that is also trying to line up
carriage deals for a domestic NGC. "We see it as an analog service," Zaslav
Near-term, NBC will try to build on its existing business
by launching CNBC Biz 24, a 24-hour digital service, in the next three months, Zaslav
That digital network's program schedule will include
overseas financial coverage from the networks that CNBC co-owns with Dow Jones & Co.
-- CNBC in Asia and Europe.
That digital channel, originally dubbed CNBC2, has already
secured a slot on a transponder of digital services that includes The Biography Channel,
History Channel International, Do It Yourself Network, The Independent Film Channel and
"Putting CNBC Biz 24 on a bouquet of quality digital
services is of utmost importance to us," Zaslav said.
This year, Zaslav has been going to MSOs with a complex
package aimed at encompassing long-term renewals and rate hikes for CNBC and MSNBC;
carriage of CNBC Biz 24; retransmission consent for NBC TV stations; carriage of NBC
digital-broadcast signals; and coverage of the next five Olympic Games on MSNBC and CNBC.
So far, NBC has struck deals that include the Olympics and
long-term CNBC and MSNBC renewals with AT&T Broadband & Internet Services, Cox
Communications Inc. and DirecTV Inc. Zaslav said another pact will be announced in the
next few weeks.
But some cable operators are shunning the package, refusing
to ante up the $1-per-subscriber, per-year Olympic surcharge that NBC is levying, or to
commit themselves to long-term contracts for CNBC and MSNBC that include license-fee
NBC is also continuing to talk with cable operators about
their interest in a localized weather service, Zaslav said. It already provides regional
weather service to about one-third of DirecTV's homes -- those that were formerly
part of PrimeStar Inc.
NBC Cable will continue its efforts to increase the
distribution of ValueVision International Inc., the home shopping network that is being
rebranded as "SnapTV" as part of an alliance between NBC, XOOM.com and Snap,
Since NBC acquired its stake in ValueVision earlier this
year, its carriage has increased to 22 million subscribers from 14 million, according to
Zaslav. With the network being repositioned as more of an electronic-commerce service,
rather than a traditional home shopping network, he expects its distribution to continue
on an upswing.
In last week's announcements, Wright said he will lead
a team of NBC executives who will assume responsibility for the network's new
business development. That team will include Rick Cotton, executive vice president and
general counsel, and Larry Rutkowski, chief financial officer of international and new
As part of the restructuring, NBC Network president Randy
Falco and Scott Sassa, president of NBC West Coast, will oversee the programming side of
NBC's agreement with Paxson Communications Corp. NBC plans to use Paxson's TV
stations as a second national distribution outlet.
Rogers, who will be joining publishing giant Primedia Inc.
as chairman, is continuing on at NBC for a transition period. His exit date hasn't