December 9, 2008 / 12:06 AM / 10 years ago

NBC restructures TV divisions in bid to beat slump

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - NBC, currently in last place among major U.S. television networks, said on Monday it is merging two divisions responsible for making TV shows in a bid to cut costs during the economic crunch.

The main entrance to the NBC television network studios is pictured in Burbank, California, October 11, 2007. REUTERS/Fred Prouser

NBC said the restructuring would streamline the creative process and create a more viable business model in the fast- changing TV business. Financial details were not disclosed.

“The move we are making today is in response to not only the current financial environment, but to the inherent structural changes that are going on in the television industry,” Marc Graboff, co-chairman of NBC Entertainment told journalists on a telephone conference call.

Graboff said the network, a unit of the NBC Universal media wing of General Electric Co, is trying to “right-size” itself for the marketplace and be more “talent-friendly” by streamlining creative decision-making.

NBC said veteran network programing executive Angela Bromstad and former BBC Worldwide America executive Paul Telegdy will now oversee the broadcaster’s programing.

Monday’s announcement followed the ousting last week of three top executives in NBC’s entertainment division, including those in charge of scripted shows and reality series.

The network has seen its ratings drop by some 14 percent in the new fall TV season that began in September and remains in last place among the four major U.S. networks.

New NBC shows, such as “Knight Rider” and “My Own Worst Enemy” have fared poorly with audiences this season, while previous favorite “Heroes” has seen its viewership slip.

All the networks are struggling to retain viewers who are finding alternative ways to watch TV, often bypassing commercials. Further adding to industry woes are advertisers, who are expected to slash spending as the U.S. economy slides deeper into recession.

NBC said it would also further integrate its international production and reorient domestic TV production into a more central hub that could produce shows more efficiently and globally.

Network officials declined to give cost savings or detail jobs cut, but said the network had tried to eliminate redundancies as far as possible.

Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte and Andre Grenon

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