NBC to expand in 30 countries in three years

Set for a period of “tremendous global growth,“ NBC Universal plans to expand its television networks to 30 countries over the next three years.

NBC’s CEO Jeff Zucker said last week that the network’s expansion, to include the Sci-Fi Channel and CNBC Europe, will augment the company’s international film and television production activities. The move is part of a three-year plan to double sales of the network’s overseas cable channels to $5 billion.

At an intellectual property conference in Washington, D.C., Zucker said that in addition to global expansion, his company is focused on digital technology. “Our business models today are changing faster than a ‘Saturday Night Live’ skit gets posted on YouTube,” he said.

He said NBC has been “ripping apart old business models” and trying “radically new” ideas in an attempt to retain a fragmenting audience.

Zucker also called for better international efforts to combat counterfeiting and piracy, arguing that his company’s growth can’t succeed “in countries where piracy claims 50, 60 or 90 percent of the market.”

However, he stepped into controversial waters by calling for heavier use of technologies for blocking the open use of content, saying he did not buy into “conventional wisdom” that a technological solution to digital piracy is a lost cause.

He praised AT&T for committing to expanded research into tools for reducing piracy, saying that he hopes that within the next few months, all of the largest ISPs will follow suit. Filtering technology, Zucker argued, is the “best shot at relieving clogged networks by keeping copyright-infringing content off the networks.”

Zucker wants technology copy protection on all ISPs, user-generated and auction Web sites, at universities, and on home electronics networks and components.