NBC packing its bags for Universal City

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Three and a half years after the NBC-Universal merger, the company is relocating most of its television operations from Burbank to Universal City, centralizing its West Coast media operations on one lot.

NBC Universal will unveil Thursday a plan to create a "green," state-of-the-art, high-definition West Coast News Headquarters and content center in Los Angeles that will house the Los Angeles bureau of NBC News, as well as KNBC, KVEA and "Access Hollywood." The facility is expected to be up and running by 2011.

Additionally, as it has been rumored for months, NBC is planning the renovation and expansion of Stage One on the Universal lot, which will host "The Tonight Show With Conan O'Brien" in 2009.

As a result, NBC Uni is looking to sell a major portion of its 34-acre studio lot in Burbank in a transaction that will likely involve the retention of portions of the Burbank property, and the leaseback of certain facilities. That way, NBC Uni would keep some productions on the Burbank lot for several years.

NBC News' Los Angeles bureau, KNBC, KVEA and "Access Hollywood" are the only organizations planning to relocate to the content center in Los Angeles.

"Burbank has played an important role in NBC's history in Southern California," said Tom Smith, NBC Uni's senior vp of West Coast Real Estate. "When looking at our long-term business operations, we realized there are very real strategic and synergistic opportunities in bringing our production facilities and talent together to grow in Los Angeles.

The new NBC content facility will be located at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Red Line Subway Station in Universal City, directly across the street from Universal Studios.

It will be modeled after the NBC News World Headquarters at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City, which is being unveiled Thursday and opens later this month.

"Today, as we cut the ribbon on a state-of-the-art facility at our world headquarters in New York, we look to Los Angeles as an extension of that -- giving us a world-class facility on both coasts, allowing for better collaboration among all our West Coast newsgathering operations, and better serving our viewers both locally and nationally," said NBC News president Steve Capus.

The renovated Stage One, which was originally built in 1961 for "The Jack Benny Show," will feature a theater designed for a live audience, state-of-the-art broadcast production facilities and office space. Over the last several years, Stage One has been changed to accommodate film and TV productions, including "Knight Rider," "Jurassic Park III," " The Incredible Hulk," "Bruce Almighty" and "Desperate Housewives."
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