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WSJ Delivers All the News That’s Fit to Recycle

One of the advantages of hiring new reporters is that old trends can be rediscovered and become minty fresh all over again.

So it is with the Wall Street Journal’s Amy Chozick, whose stating-the-obvious exercise in the paper’s latest edition focuses on the proliferation of original cable series.

Cable shows, she writes, “are reinventing the way TV is made. For years, the few original scripted shows on basic cable were considered the industry’s minor leagues. Shows like “Monk” and “The Shield” won some awards and critical pats on the head, but they were anomalies. Now, as the media landscape changes and viewers flock to shows they like wherever they air, series on basic cable are still a junior circuit compared with the networks, but their universe keeps expanding, attracting better talent and growing in vibrancy.”

Can this possibly be news to anybody who pays attention to television?

Hell, it’s not even really news to the Journal. In fact, the paper ran an almost-identical piece seven years ago, headlined, “As Cable Gains in Prime Time, Broadcasters’ Cachet Is at Stake.”

Here’s an excerpt (the reporter was Joe Flint, a former colleague of mine, now at the Los Angeles Times):

But now cable is moving in on prime time, by positioning itself as edgier than the old guard and exploiting a revenue structure that leaves it less dependent on finicky advertisers. The result: To many in a new generation of viewers, the NBC of Bill Cosby, the CBS of “60 Minutes” and the ABC of “Happy Days” are nothing more than indistinguishable surfing stops on the remote control.

“The words ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox are not enough to sell a program anymore,” says Mike Dann, a now-retired CBS and NBC executive. “Kids talk about shows, not networks.”

Voila! Everything old really can be new again.

Oh, and by the way: Color TV? I hear great things about that.


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