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NBC: Leno in prime-time to end

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PASADENA, Calif (AP) -- NBC decided to end the Jay Leno experiment when some of its affiliates started talking about dropping the nightly prime-time show, its top entertainment executive said today.

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NBC Universal Television Entertainment Chairman Jeff Gaspin said today that Leno's nightly prime-time show will end with the beginning of the Winter Olympics on Feb. 12. NBC wants Leno to do an 11:35 p.m. show each night, a return to his old time slot, Gaspin said.

Gaspin said that despite lower ratings for NBC at 10 p.m. compared to last year, the network was making money off the show.

But affiliates were upset that the show was leading fewer viewers into their late news programs, costing them significant advertising revenue. Some affiliates told NBC in December they would go public soon about their complaints if a change wasn't made, or even take Leno's show off the air.

"The drumbeat started getting louder," Gaspin said.

Gaspin has proposed moving Conan O'Brien's "Tonight" show to 12:05 a.m., and Jimmy Fallon's show would start an hour later. But the late-night hosts had not agreed to the move. Gaspin said he expected NBC's late-night situation to be cleared up by the start of the Olympics.

Asked if O'Brien and Fallon expressed anger at his proposal, Gaspin said both men were professional and understanding when they talked. "Beyond that, it was a private conversation," Gaspin said.

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