That's the minimum size TV Guide seems to devote to one line of program scheduling for the likes of "MSNBC," "Planet Green," or "Style" in its program listings. Bigger networks can get a quarter inch of space across a page. ("CBS: The Unit. CC: Mack is seriously wounded on a mission. HD New.")
TV Guide has been making changes to its longtime program listings since the start of the year -- and not everyone is getting a spot, even some of the better-rated TV networks. We all know what is going on here. TV Guide said it has had to restrict certain channels, about 70 or so -- because of its analog distribution system, a print magazine.
The struggling consumer pub doesn't seem to have a plan for who gets left out -- at least none that readers can figure out. Bloomberg TV appears to be safe. But the bigger MTV isn't in there, or CW for that matter. But you can count on seeing ION or MyNetworkTV -- two lesser-viewed broadcast networks.
As recently as last month, then-sister company TV Guide Network was listed first -- over all the broadcast networks. Now it doesn't have to play favorites, since Macrovision agreed to sell the TV Guide Network to Lionsgate.
In theory this channel diet makes sense. The average TV viewer doesn't regularly watch the hundreds of channels typically available on her cable or satellite system. TV research companies have calculated each viewer only really looks at only about seven, nine or 12 channels on a regular basis. So we don't need the other 488 networks.
Of course, eliminating CW and MTV -- two younger-skewing channels -- seems to make sense. Young adults know their way around electronic TV listings, especially those on DVR systems. TV Guide's demos are no doubt a bit older than CW or MTV's audience, and perhaps more geared to women. Thus the mag still has the likes of Lifetime, QVC, Hallmark, Food Network, and Home & Garden TV.
But why does IFC, VH1, Spike, and that crazy tech-oriented channel, G4, get the nod?
Versus, the widely distributed Comcast Corp. sports network that airs the NHL games, isn't on its pages -- and neither is that young-skewing news channel, Current TV. Fox News is listed; but not Fox Business News.
TV Guide offers just a sampling of the bigger networks' products; though Discovery, ESPN, HBO and Showtime can have up to a dozen or so spinoff networks, the mag lists three or so of each network group.
Is there an editorial connection -- or an advertising one? There is no word yet from TV Guide executives. CW shows "Gossip Girl" and "America's Next Top Model" are always good fodder for big stories in the magazine. Why not a little blurb telling viewers when those shows are on?