Tribune Talkshows Get Picked Up N.Y.’s WPIX

WPIX New York, a Tribune-owned indie, has picked up Tribune Entertainment’s “Geraldo” and “The Joan Rivers Show” from incumbent o&o’s in the market that were preparing to downgrade the programs.

The talkshows are expected to air back-to-back in an 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. block, following a scheduling pattern set by Tribune’s flagship superstation, WGN-TV Chicago. “Rivers” draws an average 5 rating in Nielsen and “Geraldo” an 8 on the Chicago station.

Sources said “Geraldo” and “Rivers” have suffered from schedule shifts on New York o&o’s and, according to some, a lack of promotion on the stations’ part.

Three weeks ago, “Geraldo” was bumped from 4 p.m. to 9 a.m. on WCBS-TV to make room for Viacom’s hour drama, “Matlock.” “Geraldo,” which lost to “The Oprah Winfrey Show” but beat “Donahue” in early fringe, has languished in the mornings.

For next fall, industry sources said WCBS had been planning to slot the new Orion TV talkshow with Chuck Woolery at 9 a.m., bump “Matlock” to make room for Warner Bros.’ “Love Stories” and King World’s “Candid Camera” at 4 and 4:30 p.m., respectively, and relegate “Geraldo” to the wee hours.

WNBC-TV reportedly had been planning to bump “Rivers” to 9 a.m. from its current 3 p.m. slot, temporarily, and then move it back into the time period this fall as a lead-in to Paramount’s “The Maury Povich Show.”

The cash-plus-barter shows will land on WPIX as soon as their release by the other stations can be secured.

The deal follows the recent announcement that Tribune-owned KTLA-TV Los Angeles had picked up “Rivers” from KCBS-TV Los Angeles – which reportedly had a contract provision permitting a midseason switch if Trib could secure another station in the market – and Trib’s new Geraldo Rivera strip, “Now It Can Be Told.”

KTLA intends to slot “Rivers” at noon beginning next month and has yet to set a time period for the new Rivera program.

When KCBS’ rights to “Geraldo” expire (the precise date could not be determined at press time), KTLA g.m. Steve Bell said there is the possibility that his station may eventually pick up that program as well.

“If Joan does well on KTLA, and if ‘Geraldo’ becomes available, I suppose it’s something to look forward to,” he said.

KTLA carried “Geraldo” its first six months, but Trib took the show to KCBS in the 1987-88 season when it needed an o&o clearance to secure affiliate deals in other markets.

With the program airing on indies in two of the three top markets – and a possibility of an eventual pickup in Los Angeles – it appears that talkshows such as “Geraldo” no longer need major affiliate clearances to survive, according to Bell.

Mitchell Praver, Katz rep firm v.p., programming, concurred, saying that talkshows, mainly designed for affiliates, now end up much more often on indies because there’s a glut of such programming.

“There’s still a lot of life in ‘Geraldo’ and ‘Joan’ is performing adequately,” he said. “Moving to the Tribune-owned station does not signal their demise.”

Rep sources noted the “Rivers”-“Geraldo” combo on WPIX might provide some “interesting competition” to the old and new talkshows that are expected to dominate the mornings next fall.

WPIX airs aging stalwarts like “The Jeffersons” and “Fantasy Island” in late morning, to lackluster numbers.

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