Jeff Zucker tries the “Sam Zell” gambit

According to an interview with NBC supremo Jeff Zucker — as reported by Variety magazine on its website today — the TV network hasn’t been happy with its iTunes deal for a number of reasons, including the fact that Apple wouldn’t let it experiment with differential pricing. But the real howler in the piece comes when Zucker huffs that the computer company refused the network’s request for a cut of Apple’s hardware sales:

“Apple sold millions of dollars worth of hardware off the back of our content and made a lot of money,” Zucker said. “They did not want to share in what they were making off the hardware.”

This, of course, is known as the “Sam Zell” strategy, in honour of the real-estate billionaire who attempted to argue that Google should pay newspaper’s a cut of its revenue because Google News carries excerpts from newspaper stories. Could Jeff Zucker seriously believe that Apple owes NBC a cut of hardware sales because iTunes carries some NBC shows?

He might as well argue that Google deserves a cut of the PC revenue that Hewlett-Packard and Dell generate, because so many people use their computers to go to Google’s website. What a maroon.


Not content with whining about Apple not paying a portion of its hardware revenue to NBC, Zucker also apparently said that the computer maker “destroyed the music business” in terms of pricing and threatens to do the same with video. Translation: Man, I wish we could get away with charging $40 for a DVD full of “deleted scenes” from Facts of Life.

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