Commentary

TV Trades Should Do Like The Networks They Cover Do: Counter-Program

TV networks counter-program each other, and TV business journalists who cover the beat should do the same thing.

That's why you have to hand it to The Washington Post for going with the counter- TV story today about Comedy Central and John Kerry.

Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" will have Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry as its guest tonight -- his first appearance since a bunch of loony Vietnam veterans got together to buy an ad raising questions about Kerry's war record. (Couldn't they use that advertising money in a better way? Perhaps buy some advertising time on the Fox show "Arrested Development" to keep it alive, or at least buy "JAG" something closer to their hearts).

The story was good and fun. This time of year, it would have been easy to do a story on, say NBC's ratings of the Olympics, or the battle of Fox and NBC's boxing shows, or how the TV advertising business revenue has grown this year.

We are television business writers after all - and the key part of that modifier is that we cover TV - which is kind of a cool business. It's serious - but not that serious. We don't look for the toxins in the drinking water. (Okay, perhaps some toxic TV business deals - you know TBS' purchase of "Sex in the City" reruns, or maybe ABC's programming deal for the NHL.)

The question the Post asked the Kerry campaign was easy enough: Why do this interview - on what is known as a mostly comedy show -- instead of a more mainstream TV news show? The Kerry campaign didn't really answer. Maybe it's to find some younger viewers for Mr. Kerry, as the article suggests.

Other dailies did report on the news of Kerry's Comedy Central appearance -- but they didn't go into any analysis about an obvious question.

The lesson learned here is that there are plenty of TV business and programming stories - probably small -- that deserve big attention, especially as media consolidation makes it somewhat harder to break big news. And, of course, harder in the summer where a hungry journalist can lose weight.

Now about Outdoor Life Network's decision to air "RV Today" instead of the "Vuelta de Espana" bike race...

Yes, no matter how small -- with Fedora on and my notebook in hand -- I'm looking under every network schedule for evidence of amusing insight.

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