HOLLYWOOD Although ABC’s wrestling match with affiliates over “NYPD Blue” has grabbed headlines, it’s not the only network facing such scuffles. Word is that NBC outlet KYW-TV in Philadelphia will bump the new series “Against the Grain” in favor of a local primetime newshour.
That show, “The Bulletin With Larry Kane,” premiered July 30, but at the time it wasn’t specified whether the series would continue through the fall.
On Friday, however, NBC acknowledged that KYW has given the newsmag a 52-week commitment to air Fridays at 8 p.m. The web’s affiliate relations department is currently in discussions with the Westinghouse-owned station regarding a clearance for “Against the Grain”– a family drama from Warner Bros. TV — elsewhere on the schedule, but the station has yet to designate a time period.
The decision by KYW to bounce the network in primetime is significant, since Philadelphia is the U.S.’ fourth-largest television market, accounting for about 2.9% of U.S. households. (New York, the largest market, covers nearly 8%, while Los Angeles reaches almost 6% of the nation’s homes.)
The treatment of the NBC hour also underscores the rocky state of network-affiliate relations, such as the 16 affils that ABC acknowledged have thus far declined to clear the pilot for its new Tuesday drama, “NYPD Blue.” Those stations are mostly in smaller cities, reaching about 4% of the U.S.
CBS also clashed last season with Bonneville Intl. Corp., owner of its Salt Lake City and Seattle outlets, for declining to air episodes of the Emmy-nominated drama series “Picket Fences.” Bonneville, owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, objected to treatment of such topics as Mormon bigamy and masturbation.
Moving a network show out of primetime is hardly without precedent. Several ABC affiliates, for example, such as the stations in Seattle and Denver, traditionally air local football shows adjacent to “Monday Night Football,” delaying its lead-in hour (last year “The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles,” this fall the newsmag “Day One”) until another time during the week.
Into fringe slots
While the ABC Monday hour and “Against the Grain” will still air in those markets, the shows are often relegated to early fringe or even weekend-afternoon timeslots, where HUT (homes using TV) levels are significantly lower than in primetime. “Grain” will premiere on the web Oct. 1.
The networks have become more vulnerable regarding preemptions due to cuts in the compensation paid to affils to carry programs; still, most compensation deals now also include incentives (or penalties) for stations based on their clearance of network shows.