NBC breached an unwritten rule Sunday night when it ran a promo for a cable-TV series in primetime that listed both the night and the time when the episode will run.
The cable series is USA Network’s “Monk,” which kicks off Friday at 9 p.m. During a commercial break during the hourlong NBC reality series “Crime & Punishment” Sunday at 10 p.m., NBC sold a spot to USA for highlight scenes of the special two-hour “Monk” premiere.
But instead of the usual “Check your local listings” voiceover following the highlights, NBC allowed USA’s announcer to give out the exact date and time.
“I thought NBC’s policy is not to accept time-specific commercials for a cable-network series,” said Michael Carson, general manager of WHDH, the NBC affiliate in Boston.
When told of the spot for “Monk,” Carson said, “I don’t like it,” adding his local sales staff would never permit such a spot. “We’ll sell time for HBO to promote ‘The Sopranos,’ ” he said. “But we wouldn’t allow HBO to conclude the spot by saying, ‘Tune in Sunday at 8.’ ”
Joe Berwanger, general manager of Detroit NBC affil WDIV, agreed with Carson, saying WDIV would not condone the sale of time to a cable network “to list the specific day and time for a series episode.”
It’s no accident that the day/date spot for “Monk” turned up within an episode of “Crime & Punishment.” “Monk” is a USA Network show, and its sister company sold “Crime & Punishment” to NBC.