MCA targets ‘Generation X’

MCA TV confirmed Tuesday it has greenlighted “Generation X,” a weekly one-hour newsmagazine show aimed at young adults, for fall 1994.

Pre-production has begun on the all-barter program, a strip candidate for the following season (Daily Variety, Aug. 10), that is a joint venture between MCA and its 50-50 financial partner, Chris Craft/United Television.

Described as a “60 Minutes” for the target 18-34 audience, the program will feature correspondents and anchors — called “generators” by the syndicator — in their 20s. There will be three or four segs per show and the program will offer stations tie-ins with local newscasts.

“We’re aiming at a particular audience that is not being served by broadcast stations, particularly the affiliates,” said MCA TV prez Shelly Schwab.

United Television president Evan Thompson appeared to agree, committing all eight of his stations to the program. The broadcast group’s practice has traditionally been to acquire programming for either its independents or network affiliates.

Its indies, which include KCOP and WWOR-TV in New York, will air the series in primetime, while the affils will carry the weekly all-barter show in primetime, access or as news lead-ins or lead-outs.

Details uncertain

MCA is holding back on announcing the number of episodes that will be produced the first season or the barter split until it determines the needs of another station group negotiating to launch the show.

Although the goal is to launch a 30-minute five- or six-day-a-week series in year two, Schwab said he will have to see whether market conditions dictate such a move. He isn’t certain if the show would continue as a weekly beyond its first season if MCA is unable to roll it out as a strip.

With “Generation X” seeking to capture the twentysomething audience, some competitors expressed doubts that MCA would be able to find a large enough audience on weekend nights. But Schwab insisted that there are “plenty of young people watching TV over the weekends.”

Because of the expensive nature of the newsmagazine, which will have remotes, Schwab said MCA performed extensive market research on audience flow.

MCA and Chris-Craft could likely reduce the cost of the shows if producer ZM Prods. chooses to take the non-union route, which would put it under the typical $ 450,000 to $ 600,000 per episode cost of newsmagazines.

Schwab declined to comment on costs — like most majors, MCA has a huge overhead — but said that a decision about whether it will be union or non-union is up to the indie production company.

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