01/07/2010 AT 7:20 PM ET
Jay Leno’s time in prime time may be coming to an end – or not – depending on whom you believe and how you read a network statement.
Conflicting reports hit the Internet on Thursday that the talk show would either be canceled, moved back to 11:30 p.m., or none of the above while discussions continue with his Tonight Show replacement Conan O’Brien.
Fueling the confusion is an NBC statement that neither confirms nor denies the reports, but does allude to concerns by network affiliates over the sagging ratings.
“Jay Leno is one of the most compelling entertainers in the world today,” says the NBC statement. “As we have said all along, Jay s show has performed exactly as we anticipated on the network. It has, however, presented some issues for our affiliates. Both Jay and the show are committed to working closely with them to find ways to improve the performance.”
Leno professed to be in the dark, joking about the reports during his monologue on Thursday’s taping of The Jay Leno Show.
“I don’t think there is any truth to the rumors,” he said. “See, it’s always been my experience that NBC only cancels you when you’re in first place. So we are fine. We are OK.”
Later, he joked, “What does NBC stand for? Never Believe your Contract.”