NBC Universal, Affiliates Form Broadband Venture

The objective is to better monetize video content.
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NBC Universal and its affiliate TV station groups are teaming up in a joint venture called the National Broadband Network that will aim to leverage the various parties' video content.

NBC's 213 affiliates voted unanimously Wednesday for the plan, which will incorporate the video content of local news providers and their station output.

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Executive Vice President Terry Mackin, who is chairman of the NBC Affiliate Board, says the venture will involve "significant sums of launch capital." He emphasized that it is not a revenue-sharing program but a legitimate joint venture.

TV networks have come under fire for leaving their affiliate stations out in the cold on revenue sharing from programming that they put on other platforms, such as

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iTunes and elsewhere on the Web.

NBC and its affiliates have joined together successfully in the past on a venture called NBC Weather Plus and on news Web sites through a jointly owned company called Internet Broadcasting. The latest venture is intended to help the various partners better monetize their video content.

Mackin called the opportunity for affiliates sharing in downloads onto iPods and other platforms "very small compared to this business," but says that separate discussions on that front are ongoing.

The new service will be rolled out at the end of 2006. NBC will be the majority owner, and the venture will include the NBC Universal library.