NBC affiliates support moving Jay Leno time slot

By Steve Safran 

This is not the most surprising news you’ll hear today, but it would appear the NBC affiliates support the network’s apparent plan to move Jay Leno out of the 10 p.m. time slot. Broadcasting & Cable‘s Mike Malone talked with GMs at some of the affiliates, and they were pleased to hear (the unofficial) word that Leno would move to 11:30 pm:

“I’m very excited-it’s the best outcome we could’ve had,” says WLBT Jackson VP/General Manager Dan Modisett. “I don’t think this was working like any of us had hoped.”

The affiliates are really getting battered by Leno’s weak 10 pm ratings, as it was providing a weak lead-in to the local news:

“Charleston-Huntington (WV) news power WSAZ, for one, is getting half the lead-in it got a year ago. ‘Even strong stations like ours are getting battered,’ says VP/General Manager Don Ray. ‘So this is terrific news.'”

The plan, apparently, is to have Leno do a half-hour show at 11:35 pm, with Conan O’Brien shifting to 12:05 am when he will do an hour show. However, NYT’s Media Decoder reports O’Brien may not be happy with the idea and may move to Fox:

“The Fox network apparently wants Mr. O’Brien – and the public – to know that it thinks very highly of the late-night star. ‘We’ve always been interested in late night and we’re always looking to bring great new talent to Fox. While Conan would be a great fit for Fox, he’s still under contract with NBC, so we’ll just see how all of this plays out,’ said a Fox employee who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the record about the issue.”

It’s “The Late Shift” all over again.