Now That’s the Holiday Spirit: NBC Cancels Christmas

To save a few bucks, NBC wants its staff to skimp on the Christmas spirit.

Citing decreasing advertising revenues, NBC has instructed its management to think about postponing their staff Christmas parties to help the network’s bottom line this year. The recommendation, from NBC Chief Financial Officer Mark Begor, was given last month in a memo to all NBC divisions from local to network news to prime time entertainment.

“As a precautionary measure, responding to the slowdown in the ad sales market, we asked NBC divisions and businesses to consider postponing holiday parties,” NBC vice-president of communications Corey Shields told The Observer.

Mr. Shields stressed that the Christmas party postponement idea–which came as a part of a larger memo about lowering expenditures–is not mandatory. But at least one NBC owned-and-operated news division, WVIT in Hartford, has postponed its party from Dec. 3 until the cold chill of January.

A spokesperson for WNBC in New York said that the news division still planned to celebrate the holiday season at the lighting of the tree at Rockefeller Center, as has been its tradition, followed by an employee sing-a-long the next day, Nov. 29. Beyond that, the spokesperson declined to comment further.

Mr. Shields, the NBC corporate spokesperson, said that the network’s recommendation was not linked to any single event, such as the new $750,000-per-episode contracts for the entire Friends cast, or lower-than-expected ratings for the 2000 Summer Olympic Games. Rather, it was the result of an industry-wide downturn in the advertising marketplace, he said. Other companies are making similar recommendations, he said.

NBC’s 2000 Christmas party recommendation was reminiscent of a 1998 memo in which network employees were instructed to temporarily suspend the ordering of office supplies, including pencils. That memo was sent out in the wake of the network decisions to pay Today show anchor Katie Couric $7 million per year and pay $13 million per episode of the drama ER.

The following is the Observer’s take on the NBC decision, with apologies to Dr. Seuss:

HOW THE NBC BRASS STOLE CHRISTMAS

Every NBC-er

Down in NBC-ville

Liked Christmas a lot!

But the brass

Who lived up in NBC-ville

Did NOT!

The brass hated Christmas! Especially Christmas parties!

Now, please don’t ask why. No one quite knows the reason.

It could be, like they said, that advertising was slow

It could be, like they said, that revenue didn’t grow

But we think the most likely reason of all

May have been the Friends getting $36 million all

But,

Whatever the reason,

Friends or dud Olympic games,

NBC’s brass decided that Christmas parties were pretty darn lame

They sat in their offices and calculated the bill

For presents and stockings and egg nog to swill

The brass knew every NBC-er enjoyed a holiday bash

And NBC-ers didn’t think twice about a stock market crash

“They don’t know how much Brokaw costs!” the brass snarled with a sneer.

“Big parties on Christmas? G.E. will curl up in fear!!”

Then they growled, with their fingers nervously drumming,

“We MUST find a way to keep these parties from coming!”

For, in December, they knew…

…All the NBC girls and boys

Would want to have parties. Those parties were nice!

And then! Oh, the price! Oh, the price! Price! Price! Price!

That’s the thing the brass hated! The PRICE! PRICE! PRICE! PRICE!

Because the NBCers, young and old, would sit down to a feast.

And they’d feast! And they’d feast!

And they’d FEAST! FEAST! FEAST! FEAST!

They would eat salmon from Cucina! And Zabar’s cheese!

Stuff the tightwad brass would look at and wheeze!

And THEN

They’d do something the brass liked least of all!

Every NBC-er in NBC-ville, from Conan to Couric,

Would belly up to the bar, with big glasses clinking.

Network and local! Those NBC-ers would start drinking!

They’d drink! And they’d drink!

AND they’d DRINK! DRINK! DRINK! DRINK!

And the more the brass thought of this Christmas party cheer

The more the brass thought, “We must stop these Christmas parties this year!”

“Why for several decades we’ve put up with it now!”

“We must stop NBC Christmas parties

…But HOW?”

Then the NBC brass got an idea!

An awful idea! (Worse than The Mike O’Malley Show)

THE BRASS

GOT A WONDERFUL, AWFUL IDEA!

“I know just what to do!” the NBC brass screamed out loud

As they looked at the ratings and saw that Deadline got plowed

They chuckled, and clucked, “What a great corporate trick!”

“We’ll call up the gang, and try to postpone St. Nick!”

“All we need is a memo…”

The NBC brass looked around

A pencil? A paper? There was none to be found.

Did that stop the NBC brass…?

No! The brass simply said,

“If we can’t write a memo, we’ll type one instead!”

So they huddled at a computer, and pecked at the keys

“Dear Staffers,”

The NBC memo read

“Our ad revenue has gone dead

Even with Ed doing O.K. and West Wing showing might

Our pennies still need pinching, because Cursed sure does bite!…”

“So we won’t call it mandatory, don’t get the wrong idea

But please consider cancelling Christmas this year

It’s a way to belt-tighten, you know we need to save

Even if you make less a year than Courteney Cox’s maid!”

“Consider alternatives–Christmas in January is great!

Or potluck at Russert’s–that we highly rate!

Caterers are overrated; hiring bartenders stinks!

Get Roker and Lauer to pour their own drinks!

“Please understand us, the brass told their minions

Don’t fly off the handle, like a Chris Matthews opinion

This idea doesn’t mean we’re shutting down, or closing up shop

It’s not because Tucker and Daddio have been big, giant flops.

We still have Providence, Just Shoot Me and The Michael Richards Show

There’s Brian Williams, CNBC, and ER still doesn’t blow.

“NBC is still strong, you can surely be happy.

C’mon, it’s not like we’re UPN–we’re not nearly that crappy!

If not having Christmas makes you that mad

Hell, just go crash the soiree at Jack Welch’s pad!”