Sunday, September 26, 2010


We saw a big bloodbath this week in TV land, and not from the usual cancellations and axings of TV series. No, instead we saw Jeff Zucker's much-deserved departure from NBC (under new Comcast ownership) as well as Jon Klein's departure from CNN.  

FINALLY, NBC's long national nightmare is over! Zucker's boot is much-deserved, of course, because of the ratings woes of the main network NBC, especially the boneheaded decision/debacle that was the Jay Leno 10pm prime time experiment that ended up sending Conan O'Brien packing from the network. Ratings have been in the sink over there for a long time. I know that a lot of people are saying the cable properties have done well under his watch: MSNBC in particular has really turned it around thanks to its big-mouthed political talk (Rachel Maddow, Ed Schultz, Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann etc etc.). But his management of NBC has been nothing short of disasterous, and that's why he had to go. As a viewer, I'm glad, because I want to see NBC turn it around and return to its glory days when they used to put on the must-see shows.  

As for CNN, Jon Klein is gone because of terrible ratings, there's no doubt about it. Last place to Fox News and MSNBC is a sure fire way to be fired. A lot of people are surprised that he was booted before we saw the outcome of some of his new programming decisions that have been made -- replacing Campbell Brown with a talk show featuring Eliot Spitzer, replacing Larry King with Piers Morgan. Maybe there wasn't much confidence from on high that these moves would turn things around. His big mistake was in building up Anderson Cooper and thinking that hard-news could carry the day -- and of course, listening to comedian Jon Stewart's idiotic programming advice by booting Crossfire from the air.

I think CNN would have been far better off if they had gone with a mix of news and other programs, like they had back in their glory days. They didn't need to turn it all over to the opinionated talk-show hosts, but even I knew that you couldn't rely on non-stop hard news coverage of disasters and wars. Nothing but hard news is bound to depress the heck out of people, and it's a good way to send the information-minded viewers packing to the lively-debate shows on the other channels or to the business shows on CNBC. 

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