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TV Industry Says Goodbye to Emmys and Hello to Cold Reality (Column)

The party is over.

We’ve made it through yet another Emmy season, culminating in TV’s most celebratory, starriest night of the year. Most would agree that while the show itself was boring (evidenced by the whopping 11% ratings drop), there were a few surprises, including that HBO didn’t lose out to Netflix, as widely expected, but shared bragging rights for the most number of awards (23).

But don’t let that Emmy hangover fool you or cloud your perception of the poor overall health of the TV business — which is mired in upheaval.

As our writers Daniel Holloway and Joe Otterson point out in their incisive story this week, “With the launch of the 2018-19 season just days away, each of the Big Four broadcasters is somewhere between transition and utter disarray.” The “collective chaos,” they explain, is caused by the heightened pressure the broadcast networks face from declining ratings, significant competition from Netflix and other streamers, and shifting advertising dollars. Consequently, all of the players, including HBO, are scrambling to adjust their programming strategies.

Those shared business strains are exacerbated by the blaring uncertainty lurking in a rapidly shifting TV landscape. Disney’s acquisition of Fox is causing high anxiety among those who work at Fox and ABC. Sure, Fox honcho Peter Rice and his No. 2, Dana Walden, can breathe easy, as they’ve been given the greenlight to run the TV show in Burbank — but many others in the top ranks at both studios are nervously awaiting their fates.

Then, of course, there’s the seismic debacle engulfing CBS caused by the recent ousting of Les Moonves over sexual assault accusations. The search for a suitable successor for the disgraced CBS chief is well under way, and supposedly the so-called investigation of the allegations against Moonves is full steam ahead. Really?

Please don’t get me started on the highly troubling settlement agreement between CBS and Moonves calling for the investigation results to remain confidential. I call B.S. We have the right to know the findings.

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