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Jeff Immelt, Brian Roberts: Jeff Zucker Has Got To Go - OnMedea

Jeff Immelt, Brian Roberts: Jeff Zucker Has Got To Go

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jeff_immelt_brian_roberts.jpgSo... the top brass at NBC Universal just waited and waited just to see how things would play out - and now the shareholders of GE and Comcast (of which I am one) have a major Zucker problem on their hands.  There is really only one solution at this point:  Zucker must be fired. 

How did this man become a top executive in one of the largest media companies in the world without having a clue as to what is going on around him?

About a week ago, I said very specifically what Jeff Zucker needed to do to fix The Jay Leno Show debacle.  I even wrote out his opening remarks to the press. 

jeff_zucker_jay_leno.jpgBut this was ignored (granted, he may not even know OnMedea exists) and now it has become a PR disaster.  Does he not see the total public support for Conan now that he is "the victim"?  Not that Zucker gives a shit about public opinion - if he did, maybe NBC wouldn't consistently be the #4 network. 

Conan didn't have to be "the victim".  He could have been portrayed as a "Wall Street bank" like Goldman Sachs or JPMorgan - who just got a $65 million payout bonus for doing no work. 

Here's a statement that should have been read two weeks ago:  "We are canceling 'The Jay Leno Show' and moving Jay back to 'The Tonight Show' where he belongs - and where he was #1 for many years.  Conan O'Brien has been a valuable member of the NBC family, but the ratings at 11:30 were not what we had hoped.  However, we have made things right with Conan and paid out his contract - $65 million - and wish him luck wherever he may go next."


NBC Universal_execs.jpgBut no, team Zucker (which includes the newly-installed Jeff Gaspin... that press conference on Sunday was a textbook on how not to handle something) decided to insult Conan by giving the failed Jay Leno the coveted 11:35pm time slot (a decision I agree with from a ratings / business standpoint) and asking Conan to move back to 12:05amConan should have been let go (the ratings WERE bad) and he should have been given HIS FULL PAYOUT.  Simple.  No PR disaster. 

Now that little Zucker has insulted Conan AGAIN by saying he will keep him off the air for 3 1/2 years because "he failed to live up to his promise to me."  Are you fucking kidding me?   Basta! 

So... Jeff Immelt and Brian Roberts - as a GE and Comcast shareholder - I would ask that you please end this ridiculous, horribly managed crisis by firing Jeff Zucker - not when the Comcast acquisition goes through - now.

jill_kennedy_small.jpgJill Kennedy - OnMedea

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Molly Glover said:

Agreed. After a while you start to really wonder why there is such dysfunction going on there. It's got to start at the top.

Hollywood Producer said:

Agreed. He can't be allowed to win this round against Conan. His free ride is over. Too much failure not enough success. If I failed like he has, I definitely wouldn't have a job today.

Riddler Dan said:

Maybe Jeff Zucker has somethign on these guys. Pictures of Immelt in compromising position, etc. It's strange that he keeps failing upward.

Manny Don't Do It said:

No youre wrong. Management should take control of this situation. Management cannot allow talent to push them around. Zucker needs to make a hard statement. Sorry Conan. You don't get a full payout. You don't get to do your show on any other network. Take this and go away.

Hollywood Producer said:

The Tonight Show with Jay Leno has been restored... for one hour.

joe said:

I think you forgot that Zucker already signed a contract to lead NBCU once Comcast does take it over. That said, it doesn't mean that contract can't be broken like Conan's was.

Jill Kennedy said:

Very true, Joe. But I think NBC Comcast has to eat that contract and get rid of him. He's already a rich man, so the money that he'll get doesn't bother me. I just want him out of any sort of power in a major media company.

vince said:

I have watched the Tonight show since Johnny Carson had it. I switched to Arsenio Hall and then back to the Tonight show after Arsenio got canned. I watched Leno. Leno moved to 10 p.m. Conan took over, I watched a few show, but it didn't keep me interested. I switched to Letterman. If Leno moves to 11:35, he'll move by himself, I'll stay with Letterman. NBC can just go dry up. The whole NBC network is in the toilet and nothing they do except kick Leno off the air would be right. He (Leno) tanked at 10 p.m. and he was cancelled. It's done, move on stupid....

Voice Of Reason said:

I disagree - partialy. Yes, it's true....Zucker should be fired. But to say that Conan should have The Tonight Show taken away from him after only seven months is crap. It took Jay almost two years to become #1 against Letterman when he first took the job from Carson. Conan really didn't get the chance to establish himself. Not to mention, who's funnier? Conan. Who's pushing 60 and is not going to be around much longer anyway? Leno. And that's the main reason (from a business standpoint) why Zucker should be fired...because of his short sightedness and complete incapability to realise what's best for the long-term future of NBC. Personally, I believe he has a severe "George Costanza" complex. AKA: Little big man sydrome.

Jonny Q said:

Part of the problem seems to be "we gotta get ratings back, right now!" -- but that leaves "long term planning" entirely out of the equation.

The best reason for Jeff's firing also involves "long term planning." NBC crowed about how much money they'd save on the Jay Leno Show, and were prepared to accept lower ratings as they'd still see a profit. How did the 11:00 affiliate newscast ratings that would most surely be affected by that as well, never seem to enter into their decision making process?? OF COURSE they were going to lose ratings, and therefore, money. Jeff talked about it on Charlie Rose without even addressing that part -- just chalks it up as "another risk-taking decision that didn't work out."

If he built a structure that was much less expensive than normal, and it fell down and there were casualties -- could he likewise stand behind "it seemed like a good idea at the time"?

And no, NBC should not return to Leno at this point. Too much water under the bridge now. It may seem a good idea with the thinking that, "Put him back, things will return as they were before," but he is too damaged now.

They started Conan in the summer when ratings are lower. Then the David Letterman "scandal" brought eyeballs over to his program -- not to mention Dave, as the senior respected host remaining in late night, likely drew longtime fans back to him after Leno's departure. Then, NBC was willing to sacrifice ratings at 10:00, despite how they affected 11:00 newscasts, and despite how they affected the 11:35 Tonight Show. How can they even start to blame any of that on Conan? THIS SHOULD HAVE ALWAYS BEEN A PART OF THE THINKING FROM THE GET-GO. Sure, sacrifice some ratings now; do the long-term build because it's good -- for the long term plan.

They were sure willing to do a lot to keep Conan from 2004 up until he actually was in place. Now they see him as damaged goods -- which only happened because of their decisions. He's always been the same guy with the same talent; always had the same potential. They should keep the guy with the future, and let Leno go to Fox. This will be good for Leno because he has little to lose at this point, and he would not then be seen as the ogre he's being made out to be right now. He has other options, and he could keep his staff working on "a show" SOMEWHERE -- he doesn't have to reclaim the Tonight Show to do that. Regardless of his best intentions for his staff, Conan's got a staff too -- one staff will have to rebuild regardless. It just looks so bad for him to reclaim the show under these circumstances -- it's why David Letterman chose not to accept NBC's deal to replace Jay after 18 months; it's not the same "Tonight Show" inherited from Johnny Carson anymore, and he would seem the bully to oust Jay at that point. SAME THING applies to this situation now.

Jill Kennedy said:

Jonny Q, I agree with you for the most part. But I do think that Leno will return to fairly strong ratings simply because most of the people who watch him don't really get or want to get all of the behind the scenes drama. If Jay says he was screwed by NBC and Conan didn't get the ratings, then most of his fans would agree with him. I am curious to see outside of the big cities how much interest there is in the Jay/Conan/Jeff Zucker thing.

I think Zucker should be fired for incompetence. Jay and Conan were never incompetent. As a business decision, I think it is correct to go back to Jay. Conan will get strong ratings initially at Fox (or wherever) as a curiosity, but then he'll settle in a 2.3/5 rating - which will be far below Jay.

Steve Darner said:

Thanks to Zucker, now I have an hour of free time to play video games or sleep, or watch any other network. Aside from Chuck, I only watch(ed) Conan for years on NBC. Not including USA and SciFi channels.
Leno wont even be back on the air (@ 10:35) until after the Olympics? I only watched The Tonight Show with Jay Leno because he led me up to Conan. Then I tried the new Leno but that didn't fly. So I stuck with the NEW Tonight Show with Conan.
Now I have removed the Tonight Show schedule from my DVR. Chuck is all that is left but I expect Jeff will fix that soon enough.

Just a heads up... your site looks extremely weird in Firefox on a Mac

About Jill Kennedy

Jill Kennedy - Blogger - OnMedea Jill Kennedy is an Ivy League MBA / refugee from Lehman Brothers.

Manka Bros. (and the Manka Business Channel) hired her (for a very low sum) to cover the world of media (not the world of Medea) in her own words without corporate interference.

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About Medea

Medea Medea was a real bitch from classical mythology - as most famously dramatized by Euripides.

She was a sorceress and wife of Jason, whom she assisted in obtaining the Golden Fleece. When Jason deserted her, she chopped up their children. One could say, Medea acted as rationally as a major media company.


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