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NBC Welcomes Promotion Synergy

May 14, 2004|Elizabeth Jensen | Times Staff Writer

Robert J. Thompson, director of the Center for the Study of Popular Television at Syracuse University, said he was comfortable with the duality. He suggested newsmagazines and morning shows "have always been in this fluid undefined territory where when there is big breaking news they can really deliver hard-core journalism and, at the same time, they can also be employed as essentially adjuncts to the promotional department, in a way that would never work with the evening news." He noted that the "Friends" and "Frasier" editions of "Dateline" delivered strong ratings and thus ad revenue.

For his part, Neal Shapiro, president of NBC News, defended cross-promotion. He said news programs would themselves be seeking some audience-generating goodies elsewhere within NBC Universal. He also said he was looking forward to not having to fight with rivals for an interview with, say, the star of a breakout Universal film; the studio has Vin Diesel starring in "The Chronicles of Riddick" in June and Matt Damon in "The Bourne Supremacy" in July.

"We're going to get it," he said, adding that it would be a "big advantage." Zucker likewise defended NBC News' recent shows on NBC Entertainment finales, noting they accounted for just a fraction of what "Dateline" covers in a year and adding that it would have been "a mistake" for "Dateline" to ignore such popular programs.

"To penalize 'Dateline' and say they should not be able to cover 'Friends' and 'Frasier' just because they are in the NBC family would be like saying Time and CNN can't do stories about HBO's 'The Sopranos,' " all of which are part of Time Warner Inc., he said. "That's asinine."

As for USA and Sci Fi, Zucker said the upcoming premieres of the new season of "Monk" and the miniseries "5ive Days to Midnight" were candidates for some sort of cross-promotional attention, noting, "We are fully integrated."

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