No Need to Fear: Advertisers Can Drink Up Edgy Programming This Year

Heading into upfront season everyone is looking for an edge. For TV programmers that edge may come in the form of programming, even though that might put advertisers on edge.

Sharpen your programming schedule pencils, then.

FX Networks CEO Peter Ligouri has now taken over for Gail Berman, as president of entertainment for Fox Broadcasting Co. It was Ligouri and Kevin Reilly, former president of entertainment for FX, now president of entertainment for NBC, who championed two edgy FX shows, "The Shield" and "Nip/Tuck."

For Ligouri, his initial job is pretty easy. Berman left him in good hands with a number of pilots ready for Fox's new schedule, and perhaps the network's first adults 18-49 seasonal win in the network's history. Reilly has a tougher job. At the recent development meeting with advertisers, he talked about getting "fresh" programming for the suddenly fourth place network. But what does that mean? Considering his FX background -- does fresh really mean raw?



Just look around and you'll see some potentially raw TV programming. Weeks ago, it was revealed a boxer from "The Contender" committed suicide. On another reality show, ABC's "Wife Swap," a father slapped his daughter enough times that a filming TV crew -- after discovering the abuse -- took her to a hospital. ABC then killed the episode.

Too raw, too real, and perhaps too edgy.

If you are an advertiser, expect more of this -- not because two FX executives control the primetime entertainment divisions of two major broadcast networks -- but because that is a natural direction. All this stems from FX and MTV by way of HBO -- a pay network that we all know gives virtual creative freedoms to all TV producers, which can show brutal footage with the roughest of language.

But advertisers shouldn't necessarily be nervous. Remember it wasn't too long ago you could not say pregnant on TV. Consumer s of those advertising businesses can approve of edgy shows. Why? Because in contrast to real life situations, TV can be trivial.

People don't mind sending troops off to war -- risking lives. This pales in comparison with advertisers who buy into risky and racy programming where there customers can possibly rebel.

Years later, all this can look somewhat quaint. "NYPD Blue" showed off some naked backsides ten years ago - and somehow the mental health of TV viewers didn't do the limbo.

What do advertisers risk? A few media dollars? Remember, this really isn't serious. It's only television. It's not about real life toxins in your drinking water.

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