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Slow goings for network TV

Marketplace Staff Sep 21, 2007
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Slow goings for network TV

Marketplace Staff Sep 21, 2007
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TEXT OF INTERVIEW

Doug Krizner: The new TV season is off to a slow start. If early returns are a sign, the networks face a big challenge this fall.

Let’s bring in Mike Speier. He’s executive editor with Variety. Mike, what characterizes the new fall line-up?

Mike Speier: Money. Expensive. The networks are spending a lot of money to make things look terrific. It’s not the star power that’s bringing the money in, although there are some big names here and there. It’s just the fact that the TV business has to look like the movie business, because people’s expectations of entertainment have changed and they want things to look great.

Krizner: Which network has the most to lose here?

Speier: It really is NBC, for many different reasons. Number one is they weren’t very good last year. They were third place from the three big networks. They’re the ones that people are gonna be looking for. Number two, they have a new entertainment guru, which is Ben Silverman. And he was brought over to be kind of the new guy in entertainment, to get to the young people. To get ’em.

Krizner: Is CBS in a particularly tight spot right now?

strong class=”name”>Speier: CBS is not having a good couple of months, and certainly not a good year with the Katie Couric situation. And what the Dan Rather lawsuit does right now is it brings back into focus what a bad decision it was to bring Katie Couric into the fold.

Krizner: “Kid Nation” – what is this for CBS?

Speier: Kid Nation is, depending on how you look at it — and depending on the ratings, mind you — a very different story for every different person who looks at it. Number one is it’s a reality show that a lot of people are up in arms over. On the other hand, it’s bringing so much attention to the network, and there’s no such thing, as they say, as bad press.

Krizner: So at the other end of the spectrum, which network is in the best position?

Speier: Because the show is such a huge hit with American Idol, Fox, no matter what they do during the season, can always rely come January or come whenever American Idol comes back on. Now, American Idol did slip last year, so they might be worrying just a tad. But then again, it’s such a big behemoth of a show.

Krizner: Will the fall season be good in terms of advertising revenue?

Speier: Every year seems to be bigger than the year before. And that’s just because of economics — I mean, that’s true with the Super Bowl, it’s true with the Olympics, it’s true with network television — that every year, things get more expensive. I don’t think it’s a byproduct of the shows being better. In fact, the ratings are worse than ever. And we just saw it during the Emmy awards, this was the second-lowest ratings ever for the Emmy cast.

Krizner: Mike Speier is executive editor at Variety here in L.A. Mike, it’s always a pleasure, thanks so much.

Speier: Thank you.

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