Shelly Palmer: It's the Programming, Stupid (But it's not Ben Silverman)

Shelly, for whom I contribute, and is a colleague and friend also contributing the JackMyers Media Business Report, portends the end of broadcast TV, as it goes into a downward spiral of managing for margins, rather than programming for audiences. Shelly may be right, and he's certainly smart to hold up radio as an unfortunate example -- terrestrial radio is now unlistenable, packed as it is with undistinguished programming and interruptive ads. If broadcast TV sings the money tune to the exclusion of creating good programming, it, too, will find itself an emptied shell. Certainly a visible future, as more and more creativity goes to other forms of video distribution -- cable, premium cable, the Internet and so on.

Shelly calls NBC exec Ben Silverman courageous for being willing to admit managing for margins. Silverman, though, is simply repeating what his boss Jeff Zucker said a couple months ago before the big TV "Upfront" sales presentations:

We’re managing for margin, not for ratings. So it’s the expense of our shows, the consistency of our shows being on the schedule. It’s not determined by the size of the ratings.

Zucker raised eyebrows at the time for honestly addressing speaking the financial side ahead of a big sales show.

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