The big three local network TV stations will still be in the Valley, but NBC made official what's been talked about for awhile: the station is moving most of its operations to Universal City. Conan O'Brien will be on the lot at Universal, while KNBC, KVEA and the local NBC News bureau will be across the street in a new development.
NBC Universal today announced a long-term operations strategy for its West Coast television businesses. The plan includes the creation of a "green" state-of-the-art high definition West Coast News Headquarters and Content Center in Los Angeles that will house the Los Angeles bureau of NBC News, as well as KNBC, KVEA and "Access Hollywood." Pending approvals, NBCU would begin the transition by 2011. Additional plans are underway for the renovation and expansion of Stage One on the Universal lot, where a live audience theater will be the new home of "The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien" in 2009.
The new content facility is being designed as the anchor tenant of the proposed Thomas Properties Group development at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Red Line Subway Station in Universal City. Located directly across the street from Universal Studios and Universal Studios Hollywood theme park and CityWalk, this site will update an existing entertainment hub, and bridges the company's television and motion picture production businesses. NBCU's plan to centralize and upgrade its West Coast news operations is based on the same strategy the company is implementing in New York. Today, the company unveils its NBC News World Headquarters at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City, where "NBC Nightly News," "Dateline NBC," "Today," MSNBC and MSNBC.COM will be co-located. That facility opens later this month.
"The West Coast News Headquarters is an incredibly exciting project on the horizon that will set a new standard for newsgathering and environmental design," said NBC News President Steve Capus. "Today, as we cut the ribbon on a state-of-the-art facility at our world headquarters in New York, we look to Los Angeles as an extension of that -- giving us a world-class facility on both coasts, allowing for better collaboration among all our West Coast newsgathering operations, and better serving our viewers both locally and nationally." The facility will enable high definition broadcasts, and will be designed to achieve the U.S. Green Building Council's standard for environmental sustainability with the latest in renewable power, energy and water efficient technologies.
Separately, the famed Stage One on the Universal lot will be upgraded and expanded to become the new location of "The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien" beginning in 2009. The renovated facility will feature a theater designed for a live audience, state-of-the-art broadcast production facilities and office space. Stage One was originally built in 1961 for the "Jack Benny Show," which was filmed there until 1965, and is nicknamed "The Jack Benny Stage." Over the last several years, Stage One has been changed to accommodate productions including "Knight Rider," "Jurassic Park III," " The Incredible Hulk," "Bruce Almighty" and "Desperate Housewives."
As part of the company's long-term strategy and plans to centralize its West Coast operations, NBC Universal is pursuing opportunities to sell a major portion of its 34-acre studio lot in the Burbank Media District. The transaction will likely involve the retention of portions of the Burbank property, and the leaseback of certain facilities, providing NBC Universal with the option to keep some productions on the Burbank lot for several years. NBC News' Los Angeles bureau, KNBC, "Access Hollywood" and KVEA are the only organizations planned to relocate to the content center in Los Angeles.
"Burbank has played an important role in NBC's history in Southern California," said Tom Smith, Senior Vice President of West Coast Real Estate for NBC Universal. "When looking at our long-term business operations, we realized there are very real strategic and synergistic opportunities in bringing our production facilities and talent together to grow in Los Angeles. As we realign our operations, we look forward to working with Burbank and the entire San Fernando Valley entertainment community in the years to come."
NBC Universal is one of the world's leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production, and marketing of entertainment, news, and information to a global audience. Formed in May 2004 through the combining of NBC and Vivendi Universal Entertainment, NBC Universal owns and operates a valuable portfolio of news and entertainment networks, a premier motion picture company, significant television production operations, a leading television stations group, and world-renowned theme parks. NBC Universal is 80% owned by General Electric and 20% owned by Vivendi.