Ad buyers indifferent to NBC shake-up

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Related story: Producer Silverman in, Reilly out at NBC Uni

NEW YORK -- Madison Avenue mostly shrugged Tuesday at the major executive shake-up at NBC that saw Entertainment president Kevin Reilly leaving the network and Reveille founder Ben Silverman and NBC Uni vet Marc Graboff being named co-chairmen of NBC Entertainment and NBC Universal TV Studio.

NBC has had such a tough run of it over the past three years that none of the ad executives contacted Tuesday seemed surprised by the news, even if it did come less than two weeks after Reilly assembled and presented the network's fall schedule.

"I don't think any of this will have any impact on the upfront at all," one executive said. "Are dollars going to be re-allocated because of this? Probably not, unless the schedule changes." Other ad buyers echoed this despite the fact that NBC was changing horses in midstream -- days or more likely weeks before the upfront was to begin.

Most ad buyers believed NBC's proposed schedule was too conservative and didn't carry enough oomph to bring the network back to competition -- let alone the lead -- among the Big Four. That first-blush belief only strengthened later in the week as NBC's rivals, even the CW, seemed to take more chances.

"A lot of people were scratching their heads walking out of Radio City Music Hall that Monday, considering they had one of the worst seasons of any broadcast network in history," said one executive who asked not to be named. "I think the last couple of years the feedback from the buying community was that NBC's schedule was ho-hum, considering they could have been a little more aggressive in their programming and a little more ambitious in changing their schedule."

Meanwhile, the 2007-08 upfront continued to be a nonstarter as buyers and networks remained far apart when it comes to the currency to be used for the upcoming TV season. One of the main sticking points is whether they will use live ratings, Live Plus 3 or Live Plus 7 as the yardstick. Some buyers have predicted that given the pace, it will be until Independence Day before the upfront concludes.
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