NBC Continues Aggressive Makeover of Its O&O Operations

By Andrew Gauthier 

Word started to spread last week about NBC’s decision to eliminate the creative services departments at its local owned-and-operated stations. According to local TV critic Ed Bark, NBC Dallas-Fort Worth is the only station to have officially announced lay-offs, but employees believe the restructuring will happen at all 10 stations before 2010. Though creative services executives will remain at each of NBC’s 10 local stations, production of topical promo spots will become the responsibility of the news staff reporting the stories. The teams complimenting the station staffs will be based in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. A New York boutique agency will handle all other promotional campaigns and brand strategies.

This is the latest in NBC’s concerted effort to centralize the management of its O&Os. In October 2008, NBC launched 10 new local websites. Each replaced the city’s old station site at a new URL address, for instance knbc.com became nbclosangeles.com. The development is part of the network’s “Locals Only” strategy, and the sites’ content includes local culture, dining, and arts listings as well as local news. The sites employ the same design template, and NBC has recruited several high-profile editors to oversee the sites, including Owen Thomas, former editor at Gawker’s Valleywag, and Jenna Briand, former editor-in-chief of AOL City Guide. Unique visits to the local sites have quadrupled since their launch, from 5 million last October to 20 million this June.

In its only statement on the creative services decision so far, an NBC spokesperson said, “Creative services executives at each station will determine their local market branding campaigns and promotion strategies, working closely with a newly formed media and planning strategy group, a division-wide sales marketing team, and an award winning outside creative agency.”


The decision has certainly hit close to home for many in the industry. Readers have posted arguments for and against the restructuring on the TVSpy Watercooler.

A post from member “F8E697” notes, “TV news promos are all based on something that is increasingly not the case: the assumption the audience is watching in real-time over the course of an evening.”

On the other hand, “There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to local news promotion. What works in Cleveland may not work in L.A. or Omaha,” comments member “Rewriter.” More…