New York -- NBC will continue to expand its cable presence,and those plans include launching a digital CNBC spinoff in the next few months, accordingto David Zaslav, who was promoted and named president of NBC Cable last week.
NBC -- which is restructuring as a result of NBC Cablepresident Tom Rogers' pending exit -- divvied up Rogers' duties last week. Inaddition to Zaslav being appointed president of NBC Cable, NBC Interactive Media presidentMarty Yudkovitz was put in charge of NBC's Internet and Digital Media interests. AndCNBC president Bill Bolster was given the added responsibility of CNBC'sinternational efforts.
Zaslav has served as president of NBC Cable Distributionsince April 1996, and his duties will now expand beyond distribution to crafting overallstrategy for NBC Cable, which includes MSNBC and CNBC. Zaslav will continue to report toNBC president Bob Wright, as he has in the past.
According to Zaslav, Wright remains committed to continuingto increase NBC's presence in cable by building on the company's existingbusinesses and by partnering with others. NBC already owns stakes in A&E TelevisionNetworks and Rainbow Media Holdings Inc.
NBC is also in a partnership with News Corp.'s FoxEntertainment Group and the National Geographic Society -- a joint venture that not onlyowns National Geographic Channels internationally, but that is also trying to line upcarriage deals for a domestic NGC. "We see it as an analog service," Zaslavsaid.
Near-term, NBC will try to build on its existing businessby launching CNBC Biz 24, a 24-hour digital service, in the next three months, Zaslavsaid.
That digital network's program schedule will includeoverseas 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 alreadysecured a slot on a transponder of digital services that includes The Biography Channel,History Channel International, Do It Yourself Network, The Independent Film Channel andZDTV.
"Putting CNBC Biz 24 on a bouquet of quality digitalservices is of utmost importance to us," Zaslav said.
This year, Zaslav has been going to MSOs with a complexpackage 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 NBCdigital-broadcast signals; and coverage of the next five Olympic Games on MSNBC and CNBC.
So far, NBC has struck deals that include the Olympics andlong-term CNBC and MSNBC renewals with AT&T Broadband & Internet Services, CoxCommunications Inc. and DirecTV Inc. Zaslav said another pact will be announced in thenext few weeks.
But some cable operators are shunning the package, refusingto ante up the $1-per-subscriber, per-year Olympic surcharge that NBC is levying, or tocommit themselves to long-term contracts for CNBC and MSNBC that include license-feeincreases.
NBC is also continuing to talk with cable operators abouttheir interest in a localized weather service, Zaslav said. It already provides regionalweather service to about one-third of DirecTV's homes -- those that were formerlypart of PrimeStar Inc.
NBC Cable will continue its efforts to increase thedistribution of ValueVision International Inc., the home shopping network that is beingrebranded as "SnapTV" as part of an alliance between NBC, XOOM.com and Snap,Zaslav said.
Since NBC acquired its stake in ValueVision earlier thisyear, its carriage has increased to 22 million subscribers from 14 million, according toZaslav. With the network being repositioned as more of an electronic-commerce service,rather than a traditional home shopping network, he expects its distribution to continueon an upswing.
In last week's announcements, Wright said he will leada team of NBC executives who will assume responsibility for the network's newbusiness development. That team will include Rick Cotton, executive vice president andgeneral counsel, and Larry Rutkowski, chief financial officer of international and newbusiness development.
As part of the restructuring, NBC Network president RandyFalco and Scott Sassa, president of NBC West Coast, will oversee the programming side ofNBC's agreement with Paxson Communications Corp. NBC plans to use Paxson's TVstations 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'tbeen disclosed.