B&C Talkback

A sample of reader feedback online. Join the conversation at www. broadcastingcable.com.

Re: “Jay Leno Taking Over 10 p.m. on NBC”

[Visitors to
last week were buzzing about NBC’s decision to switch Jay Leno to the 10 p.m. time slot next fall. Here are some of the comments.]

Michael Schwartz on Dec. 8:

Not certain it will work, but it is the only creative thought Jeff Zucker has ever had since he left the Today show. From a cost-cutting standpoint (i.e., now NBC only needs to fill two hours per night), it’s brilliant. I would think Conan [O’Brien] feels deflated. Maybe he’s trying to figure out with his lawyers if he is eligible for that $40 million payout he was supposed to get if NBC kept Leno.

Richard on Dec. 8:

This is a terrific move by a network that is just desperate to get any eyeballs to focus on their nonsense. [Ben] Silverman will be a dead duck by the beginning of the new year, as he’ll get slowly phased out and maybe some new blood will surface there and make primetime watchable again. It’s a start.

Dr. Ken Minarik, Rockford, Ill., on Dec. 8:

In five years this will be viewed as one of two things. It will be viewed as one of the most innovative ideas in television history, or it will be viewed as a worse debacle than Cop Rock.

The answer to which one sits solely on the shoulders of Leno. At that hour (9 p.m. in the Midwest) he needs to be a little less vulgar and little more diverse than at 11:30 p.m. A constant parade of stars shilling for their latest book and movie won’t make it. His best humor, like “Jaywalking” and his great man-on-the-street interviews, could translate well at any hour.

Alan Shafer, Great Falls, Mont., on Dec. 8:

Dynamite. I think it’s a great move, especially in the current economy, and also keeps the Leno situation from becoming messy. The man has worked very hard for his bosses to be “turned out” before he wanted.

Re: “Zucker Talks Cutting Back Network Primetime”

Vic Livingston, columnist, on Dec. 8:

Saving tips for NBC/Zucker:

1. Put Jay Leno on nightly at 10 p.m. in a truly “live” variety format. Cheaper than dramas, a real game-changer (credit Tom Shales for the idea).

2. Promote free HDTV. Why haven’t the networks told viewers what cable hopes they don’t realize—that they don’t need to pay to get true HDTV? All they have to do is put up a $30 antenna from Radio Shack.

3. Do a couple of “live” sitcoms. Adds excitement, costs less than filmed shows.

4. Update the Sunday Ed Sullivan Show concept. Make Justin Timberlake the star of a Sunday night Radio City Music Hall “spectacular,” as they used to call these shows in the '50s.

5. Think out of the box and don’t succumb to hatchet-wielding. Past is prologue. Go back to the future. Make TV “live” again. Why do you think YouTube is planning live entertainment Webcasts?

Re: “Moonves: Network TV 'Ain’t Broken’”

[At a media conference, CBS chief Leslie Moonves needled NBC for its Leno move and Zucker’s implication that the old television model doesn’t work anymore. But he said it was possible a network could bypass affiliates and essentially become a cable service. Here’s how some readers responded.]

“Butch Hobson” on Dec. 10:

I agree that’s a pretty amazing statement by Moonves. Sure, we all know Les is the Joe Biden of Hollywood (bombastic, gaffe-prone, loves sound of own voice). But he’s right; CBS probably should just sell off its local TV stations and then bypass affiliates by selling programming directly to cable/satellite/telcos. That way, CBS could collect at least 50 cents a month from cable/satellite/telcos in retrans fees and share none of that with affiliates.

“Adam Smith” on Dec. 11:

If free TV dies, democracy dies in America. Does anybody in the business still care about the public interest? Or have cynicism and greed overtaken the industry? Where are the William S. Paleys and the Ed Murrows of today? Moonves needs a history lesson—in broadcasting and in civics.

Eric Post, Chicago, on Dec. 11:

As one of the people who cannot get DTV but can get analog channels, I see a time in the next decade where free TV will come to a close.

Re: “Disney Preparing Cost-Cutting Measures”

[At the UBS media conference, B&C also reported that Disney-ABC was preparing to make dramatic cuts in the near future.]

Doug Keith, Philadelphia, on Dec. 10:

Despite the challenging times the networks are facing, giving up on primetime (as NBC is doing at 10 p.m.) and/or considering becoming just another pay TV channel (as ABC is considering) are absolutely the wrong directions. The networks are the only broad-based mass medium out there—it’s their killer app. Doing these things actually lessens their value. Maybe it is just too expensive/not profitable enough to run a major network anymore, but I don’t know how the major nets could possibly succeed as “the new TNT.”

Re: “Online Video Draws Mixed Reviews From Media Execs”

Gigi Johnson, Monrovia, Calif., on Dec. 11:

Discovery Education Network makes its living by the fact schools can’t find this online—robust business educating the educators, making the path to good video shorter, easier and measurable, and making money per student. Discovery is indeed online in a very lovely and well-designed walled garden. They also had launched Cosmeo [as a pay subscription service]. So just focusing a tad—Discovery free online, ad-supported, would not pay nearly as well for all their volumes of assets.