09 January 2010

Fox, Other Networks Interested as Conan Studies Options‏

Conan O'Brien On The Way Out at NBC
Jay Leno Getting Moved Back To Late Night

News Corp.’s Fox is among several TV networks interested in hiring “Tonight Show” host Conan O’Brien if the comedian decides to leave NBC, according to people with knowledge of the situation.

O’Brien, 46, who took over as host of “The Tonight Show” in June, planned to begin considering options after taping last night’s show, said one of the people, who declined to be identified because the deliberations are private.

The comedian, who prefers to stay at NBC, isn’t concerned that by changing networks he may have to compete with Jay Leno, one of the people said. NBC is considering moving “The Jay Leno Show” from its current 10 p.m. slot to 11:35 p.m. to bolster prime-time and late-night ratings, according to network officials with knowledge of the situation. The change would push “The Tonight Show” back one-half hour.

“To move or replace talent you have to give them something, money or something else,” Laura Martin, an analyst at Needham & Co. in Pasadena, California, said in an interview.

Rebecca Marks, an NBC spokeswoman, declined to comment. She pointed to a Jan. 7 statement that the network is committed to keeping O’Brien on the air.

Fox, controlled by News Corp. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Rupert Murdoch, said it’s interested in adding late- night programs and views O’Brien as a natural candidate.

O’Brien’s contract with General Electric Co.’s NBC remains an obstacle, according to Los Angeles-based Fox. The Wall Street Journal reported earlier that O’Brien was considering a move.

Wait and See

Fox is waiting to see how events unfold at NBC. Comcast Corp., the largest U.S. cable company, plans to acquire control of NBC Universal through a joint venture with GE.

ABC is happy with its current late-night schedule and doesn’t plan to approach O’Brien, according to a spokesman for the network, owned by Burbank, California-based Walt Disney Co.

NBC aims to settle the programming questions by Jan. 21, when executives hold a regular meeting with representatives of affiliate stations, one of the people said. Leno has agreed to host a half-hour show starting at 11:35 p.m., the people said.

GE, based in Fairfield, Connecticut, gained 35 cents to $16.60 yesterday in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. Comcast, based in Philadelphia, dropped 5 cents to $16.92 on the Nasdaq Stock Market, while News Corp. Class A added 12 cents to $14.12.

Leno, 59, moved to prime time to make way at “The Tonight Show” for O’Brien. NBC announced O’Brien would take over five years earlier.

No comments:

Post a Comment