Fox chiefs discuss state of industry

Newman, Walden address NATPE-goers

The chiefs of 20th Century Fox TV rose early Wednesday for a wide-ranging discussion of the state of the TV biz and the state of their biz for the edification of NATPE-goers.

Gary Newman and Dana Walden, chairmen of 20th, spoke with NATPE prexy Rick Feldman about the recent consolidation in the network and studio biz, about efforts to rein in production costs and changing business models in general during an 8 a.m. opening sesh of the second day of the confab.

Walden was candid about the studio’s push to “rollback production costs that have risen out of whack with the advertising marketplace and the economy in general,” she said. Amid the belt-tightening across the industry, Walden said they were scrutinizing “what’s absolutely necessary” to spend on production “and where we can trim fat.”

One of the big cost drivers for drama series has been the gradual expansion of shooting skeds. Most high-end network shows now shoot eight days, as opposed to seven days or even six in decades past. Walden admitted that 20th was in fact one of the “original offenders” in allowing schedules to expand when “The X-Files” was at its peak and needed the time to maintain its movie-like production quality.

Asked by Feldman about the recent consolidation of network and studio operations at ABC and NBC, Newman said there were no such plans on the horizon for 20th, which remains as active a supplier for outside nets as it is for its Fox-owned siblings.

“Our management believes that it’s better to have different creative points of view” at the studio and net, Newman said, in order to ensure a diversity of ideas and opportunity flowing through the company and to preserve 20th’s independence in its dealings with outside nets.

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