Decency and indecency are back in the courts -- and onscreen in late night. Judges from a Federal Appeals Court are on the verge of throwing out those flimsy Federal Communication Commission rules that would fine networks for the slightest of indecent infractions. But there's more on the profanity front. Jay Leno, Conan O'Brien, and David Letterman are revealing much of the profane when bashing NBC
Many TV networks pride themselves on encouraging youth and transformation. But if that strategy is applied incorrectly, it can pull networks into a dark, unforgiving programming hole.
NBC should have a Plan B in place now that Conan O'Brien has rejected the network's idea to move "The Tonight Show" to 12:05 a.m. Not a Plan B about programming, but marketing. Over seven months ago, it began to tell viewers the long-term view of its late evening schedule would consist of Leno at 10 p.m. and O'Brien at 11:35 p.m. What will NBC now tell its viewers about its late-night schedule?
Whatever you think the new drama around Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien means to NBC viewers, think about what Jerry Seinfeld said during the NBC portion of the Television Critics Association meeting about the explosive late-night situation: "There are no rules in show business." But, alas, there could be penalties, especially if O'Brien's lawyers determine his "Tonight Show" deal isn't the real deal they signed up for.
U.S. consumers are just getting used to big new HDTV TV sets, while U.S. manufacturers are offering another expensive alternative: 3D TV. This is the way the U.S. electronics business has worked for decades: leave them wanting more to help drive business, and also give consumers more headaches over what new TV technology to consider.
Do broadcast networks have the advantage over cable networks when it comes to cable system carriage negotiations? If you are a cable network not connected to a big media company that owns a network, you might find this true. Future contract talks between cable networks and cable systems might get testier now that broadcast networks want to cut ahead of the negotiating line.
The fact that NBC is producing a massive number of 18 pilots for next season says a lot about where the business is going -- and that content isn't dead yet. This is just the information new owner Comcast wants to hear, justifying its purchase. For Comcast, it fortifies a not-so-secret desire to become more than just a data and video pipe.
We all know the facts -- or so we think. No matter. Contemporary TV and media wisdom says heavy analysis is still what U.S. media consumers are looking for, whether on traditional media or new digital platforms.
Lower ratings? It seems not to matter, as long as they find other shows where TV viewers will rush to champion their products and create buzz among other potential customers.
The big test for media companies in 2010 will be how to get consumers to pay for content -- perhaps on a monthly basis. Does this sound familiar? It should. About 30 years ago the gamble was that people would pay a monthly or regular fee to get content, after years of getting TV programs for free.