Changes Coming to Late Night?

By kevin 

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NY Times Media Decoder reports that NBC execs spoke with Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien about the future of the network’s lineup. No final decisions have been made, but executives “did not deny that the network is considering moves that could include returning Mr. Leno to his old job as host of “The Tonight Show,'” which was something that TMZ reported earlier today. Also:

The late-night discussions at NBC are directly related to pressure that has been brought on NBC by its affiliated stations, which have seen ratings for their 11 p.m. local newscasts plummet this television season because of much-weakened lead-in audiences from the network in the 10 p.m. hour.

Back in October, there were already grumblings from local newscasts about the Leno lead-in and it’s lower ratings. Meanwhile, ABC’s “Nightline” has consistently had a large lead in total viewers over O’Brien in recent months.

> Update: NBC released this statement tonight: “We have the best comedy team in the business. We remain committed to keeping Conan O’Brien on NBC. He is a valued part of our late-night line-up, as he has been for more than 16 years and is one of the most
respected entertainers on television.”

> More/Preview: Leno talks about it on tonight’s show: