VP-diversity fields job queries at NBC

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When nbc president-CEO Bob Wright named Paula Madison to the newly created post of VP-diversity, he said he got his first pick for the spot.

"She was the very best person we could put in the job," Mr. Wright said of the VP-news director of NBC-owned WNBC in New York.

Ms. Madison, who retains her VP-news director title, will lead the company's newly appointed six-member Diversity Council and report directly to Mr. Wright.

The immediate challenge for Madison is handling daily inquiries. Since taking her post last month, she has received more than 350 employment queries and dozens of TV program scripts.

"What we don't want to have are people who have contacted us and aren't responded to in a timely fashion," said Ms. Madison.

NBC's decision to create the post was prompted by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's criticism of the major networks' lack of diversity in hiring and TV programming.

AGENCIES APPROVE

Reaction from multicultural agencies and media buyers to NBC's decision to add the position has been positive.

"Unfortunately, the networks just don't have a lot of targeted programming for minorities," said Byron Lewis, chairman-CEO of UniWorld Group, New York. "But their breakthroughs and efforts to hire people will hopefully balance out the programming."

"What it says is that long term there will be more opportunities from a programming perspective for not only viewers but buyers as well," said Linda Jefferson, senior VP-media director of Burrell Communications Group, Chicago.

"The face of the nation is changing, and to fight erosion [media buyers] need to mirror America," Mr. Wright said. "We have to reach a more diverse audience, so we need a diverse staff to do that. This is very self-serving."

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