A weak advertising market only makes things tougher on those TV programmers that produce controversial and high-rated programming.
Fox's "Moment of Truth," the reality train-wreck of a show, where cheating husbands can be found to spill the beans, where wives disclose secret pasts, didn't get the go-ahead for another edition, according to Mike Darnell, president of alternative entertainment for Fox, even though it debuted with a massive 23 million viewers. He says advertisers found it too rough.
Selling this divisive show in a weakened advertising market didn't help matters, where TV advertisers have the upper hand -- not just in lower overall pricing, but more of a discerning eye when it comes to show storylines for their messaging.
Yes, content is king. But controversial content is like a black-sheep-of-the-family prince. You look to avoid him, force him to sit at the other end of the dining table, or, when all else fails, challenge him to a duel. No matter what, you won't be buying him a whisky at his local pub.
So-called "hit" lists have been around for decades for TV advertisers -- shows they won't buy for content reasons, even if it fits their target audience. In this economy, one senses, more shows have been added to these lists.
It isn't just network stuff. News stories say Procter & Gamble, Progressive Insurance and others had enough of Glenn Beck's highly charged comments about our new president on Fox News Channel. Advertising was pulled as a result, according to reports.
If we are to believe TV industry sellers, the recession is abating, and advertisers will soon be rushing back. All this would fuel a tightening of the market. High-rated and scandalously themed reality shows may gain more advertising ground again.
Until then, TV marketers are in the drivers' seat, ready to parry in swordplay with anyone.