NBC’s Late Shifts: Saturday Roundup

By Chris Ariens 

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It’s not known where on the NBC schedule Jay Leno will be in two months, but next weekend he’ll be here in Las Vegas with gigs at The Mirage.

— Updates on NBC’s late shifts:

New York Times: The move to redirect Mr. Leno from prime time, where his new show has struggled since September, back to late night was fueled by complaints from NBC’s affiliated stations that they were seeing diminished ratings for their 11 o’clock local newscasts as a result of low lead-in audiences each night in the 10 o’clock hour.

Chicago Tribune: They should have seen [moving Leno to 10pm] would undercut O’Brien. And they refused to listen when affiliates correctly anticipated the lower ratings for Leno in the last hour of prime time would cost them dearly by dragging down their late local news ratings.

The Los Angeles Times: with NBC Universal and Comcast needing to push their deal through Washington lawmakers and regulators, the last thing NBC can be seen doing is to be bullying local TV stations, which still carry clout on Capitol Hill. NBC affiliates can argue that the network’s performance in the 10 p.m. time period is so tarring their local 11 p.m. newscasts that they can’t “serve the public interest” with news and information as they are required to do by law.

Variety [Reporting today from the TV Critics Assoc. tour]: As for the renewed 11:35 p.m. competition, [CBS exec Nina] Tassler said she believed “Late Show with David Letterman” would fare well vs. the return of Leno. “Dave’s show has experienced terrific growth, which has given him a bigger and loyal fan base,” she said. “He’ll do great.”

Thursday night, Leno joked about it. Last night, Conan O’Brien tried to laugh off the rumors on The Tonight Show: