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After exec shuffle, low-rated NBC faces 'uphill battle'

December 5, 2008 |  5:01 pm

Nbcexecs2_kbfg41ncNBC, struggling as its fall lineup mostly tanked, is reshuffling its senior management. Embattled network programmer Teri Weinberg and Universal Media TV studio head Katherine Pope are both out, according to Variety. And NBC Entertainment co-chairman Ben Silverman is said to be looking for a new entertainment president, a job that's officially been vacant since Kevin Reilly exited in 2007.

But it's going to take a lot more than changing the office nameplates to make NBC competitive again. The network is now in fourth place for the season to date in both viewers and the crucial demographic of adults aged 18 to 49. Today, New York-based advertising firm Magna Global -- which tends to give each network the benefit of the doubt -- looked over the results of the November sweep and said NBC faces "an uphill battle" going into midseason, largely because it lacks new scripted hits. However, the firm did point out that ABC and Fox had posted larger sweep declines than NBC compared with last year.

Things are about to get tougher still for NBC. That's because at the end of this month, the network will air the last of its high-rated Sunday football games this season. That will translate into a net loss of roughly half a million viewers from its weekly average, or about two-tenths of a rating point in 18- to 49-year-olds. With Fox likely to get high ratings again come January with "American Idol," it's looking impossible for NBC to avoid another fourth-place finish this season.

Where's the good news? Well, on Feb. 1, NBC will air its first Super Bowl in 10 years. Last year's game set a record for Fox, with nearly 100 million viewers.

-- Scott Collins 

Photo: NBC Entertainment.  Pictured are (l to r) Universal Media Studios head Katherine Pope, "My Own Worst Enemy" star Christian Slater and Executive Vice President of NBC Entertainment Teri Weinberg.