DAVID BIANCULLI

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"CBS Evening News" Makes It A Later Evening -- Why Not?
January 28, 2009  | By David Bianculli
 
Tonight at 8 ET, in what's called a one-night experiment, The CBS Evening News with Katie Couric is presenting a special prime-time edition. What's wrong with that?

Not much... but there is something.

kate-couric-primetime.jpg

First, what's NOT bad about it. Network evening newscasts, the ones at the dinner hour, are losing viewers every year, and younger people aren't picking up the habit. A prime-time showcase serves, at least, as a reminder of what's there, as well as a promotion for the CBS News brand -- which, these days, is less defined than it was in the days of Dan Rather and, before him, Walter Cronkite and Edward R. Murrow.

But what IS bad about it, even short-range, is that it's another slice of prime time given up to something other than scripted programming. And, on top of that, it's another encroachment of a different TV daypart in prime time.

This is nothing new -- in fact, it's as old as TV itself. A soap opera, DuMont's Faraway Hill, existed in prime time TV in 1946, before there WAS daytime TV. Game and quiz shows were all over prime time in the 1950s, until the quiz show scandals made them run for the hills and hide for decades.

But now NBC is planning a Jay Leno talk show in prime time, CBS has Drew Carey Price Is Right specials in prime time, and NBC is rerunning Saturday Night Live in prime time every chance it gets. How long will it be before we have The View in prime time, or a nightly newscast or issues show stripped across the board, to save costs?

I'm betting not long. And even if the news is good, that's bad news for fans of quality scripted television.

 

2 Comments

 

Sarah said:

Well then cable will just have to become free. TNT,USA and AMC are getting the better scripted series anyway.

Comment posted on January 28, 2009 7:32 PM


Jan said:

I agree with Sarah. I'm not watching that much on network TV anyway, but TNT, USA, and AMC, even Sci-Fi Channel, Comedy Central, and BBC America have series recordings on my VCR. I certainly won't watch Leno when he comes on earlier--I don't like him, and I don't watch him now. And I think ABC has been terrible to shows lately: I really, really liked "Pushing Daisies," and they cancelled it. Now I hear they're probably going to get rid of "Ugly Betty"--another favorite. So right now I'm not real happy with CBS, ABC, or NBC, although there are still a few shows on network TV that I watch--and I do mean FEW. Just counted them up, and I believe there are maybe six. I can't stand the reality shows, with the exception of "Amazing Race," so it looks like I'll soon have lots more free time for other pursuits.

Comment posted on January 29, 2009 2:05 PM
 
 
 
 
 
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