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NBC TV Network President Resigns

NBC said Wednesday that Neil Braun, president of the television network, will step down Sept. 1.

In a press release, Braun said he's leaving "to fully pursue [his] entrepreneurial instincts." The outgoing executive also said he's "examining several specific opportunities."

Braun will be replaced by Randy Falco, who has served as president of General Electric-owned NBC's broadcast and network operations division since 1993.

During the four years of Braun's tenure, NBC has ranked first in the Nielsen ratings, sparked by the success of the half-hour sitcoms Seinfeld, Friends, Frasier and Caroline in the City, along with the hour-long hospital drama E.R.

In a press release, GE President and CEO Bob Wright said Braun's efforts to come up with a way to change the network's relationship with its affiliates "have served NBC well."

In May, Braun told station general managers at an affiliates meeting about the network's plan to cut the compensation it gives affiliates. NBC, he told them, would cut its payments by 10 percent over a 10-year period in favor of a joint venture with the affiliates that would invest money in a variety of media-related businesses.

The issue will be decided later this year after a series of regional affiliates meetings, which will continue through the summer.

At the time, Edward Jones analyst William Fiala told CBS MarketWatch that NBC's plan makes sense. "Something's going to have to change," he said, "because they're going to have to make huge investments over the next decade if the networks are going to digital, and I think they are."

The plan would also help NBC cope with rapidly increasing programming costs. Earlier this year, for example, Warner Bros. extracted a multimillion-dollar fee that would allow the network to retain the rights to air E.R. for another four years.

John Eck, chief financial officer of the network's international and business-development department, will replace Falco as president of broadcast and network operations.

NBC also announced three other appointments: Dennis Bianchi was appointed senior vice president and chief quality officer; Larry Hoffner was named chairman of the sales group; and Keith Turner was named president of sales for the television network.

Written By David B. Wilkerson

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