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ABC entertainment president on NBC's primetime woes: 'We want a vibrant landscape'

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No, ABC is not gloating over NBC’s problems at 10 p.m. Though Entertainment President Steve McPherson said his network is up over 8 percent in the timeslot since The Jay Leno Show debuted last fall, he told the nation’s TV critics today that it was a “tragic thing” that the timeslot was taken away from the creative community and he’s not rejoicing over the show’s cancellation. “We are all competitive and we want a vibrant landscape,” he said. “We want a good competitor. It’s like playing for the Yankees and the Boston Red Sox stop playing baseball. You can’t get excited about that.”

ABC won’t have a dog in the fight should Conan O’Brien decide to leave NBC because he refuses to move back to the 12:05 a.m. time period. “We don’t have plans to change our late night right now,” McPherson said. “I love Kimmel, he’s been amazing.”

As for the future of V, McPherson said it wasn’t his intention to run such a short first chapter, but “production issues” took over and the network was forced to give it a limited run in the fall. ABC will return the sci-fi redux as well as FlashForward in March, he said, to give them uninterrupted runs that the network can promote and “turn into an event.”

Finally, McPherson couldn’t say whether the ratings-challenged Scrubs and Better Off Ted will survive to see another season. “I’m not going to lie,” he conceded. “The numbers are not encouraging.”

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