Does Anyone at NBC Have a Grip?

Everyone understands and appreciates the need for comedy-it is part of being in show business. However there are limits.

At stake is the reputation and longevity of NBC, the first television broadcast network in the United States, a global media company that served as the Petri dish for the advertising industry and several other global entertainment businesses, and a leader in entertainment and the communication of world affairs.

As a point of reference during WWII NBC, while under the leadership of its founder David Sarnoff, was the principal player in creating, along with other European players, Radio Free Europe, which transmitted indispensable tactical information between the allied forces. According to one of the many memos written by President Franklin Roosevelt sent to Sarnoff, Radio Free Europe was instrumental in winning the war. It is also the reason President Roosevelt awarded David the title and Star of Brigadier General and the only Honor he took to his grave. Everyone who has ever worked at the Network from the very first day up until his death in 1971 is familiar with those stories.

Today, although not ensconced in quite the same lofty realm NBC remains one of the grand and lasting symbols of American corporate ingenuity, creativity and influence the world over. Unlike the "soap operas" that Mr. Zucker refers to in his New York Times interview last week, there is only so much the NBC viewers, shareholders and the most recent Conquistador (excuse me Mr. Roberts I say this with deep respect and admiration), will endure before the network's brand, image and value are jeopardized.

From a thirty-thousand foot perch "washing your dirty laundry in public" is at best in very poor taste and at worst a strategically unwise business decision. According to scores of off-the-record conversations with former NBC executives, blog, trade, analysts and daily reports, Mr. Zucker's sordid laundry has left a seismic rupture in the fabric of the network's supporting structure.

In this telling narrative one issue remains clear - whatever deals Mr. Zucker is negotiating should be kept off-the-record, behind closed doors and in strictest confidence until the papers are signed, sealed and delivered. The same rules that apply to declassifying classified information and medical non-disclosures should pertain to the current NBC cast of characters.

It is a well known fact that today's readers have plenty of material and information to worry about. Let's begin with what to do and how to help those desperate souls in Haiti; followed by the ongoing war in Afghanistan; fighting the Taliban's; finding the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden; stopping child trafficking in America; dismantling the drug cartels before they completely infiltrate our south-western United States; finding a solution to Pakistan; managing Iraq; power-brokering with Iran; not to mention understanding the state of our economy, overcoming the current unemployment crisis, finding qualified public school teachers for our children and participating in the health-care debate... Need I continue?

To be forced to endure this most intimate spectacle involving a protracted corporate negotiation is at best absurd and certainly embarrassing. So let us not lose sight of that which is ultimately at stake- NBC's longevity and Mr. Zucker's professional fate. After a resounding artillery of opinion it is with great sadness that I observe the potential death of an American Institution that continues to entertain millions of viewers, while giving so many executives including the current CEO, a substantial lifestyle unlike any other and his current meteoric rise.

And as this three ring circus unfolds it is noteworthy to remember that NBC continues to represent one of our remaining national treasures recognized and respected the world over much like other American global brands. To name a few: Disney, Johnson & Johnson, McDonald's, and Starbucks.

The Peacock Network is and will forever be the first of three great American networks that gave birth to so many dreams, employed thousands of talented and creative people world-wide and lead the charge in communicating "all the news that's fit to print" through its magical lens.

Moving forward the question we must ask ourselves today is: if David Sarnoff were alive today would he graciously open the door or at minimum demand some very solid answers from the current tenant occupying his office on the fifty-third floor at 30 Rock.