TV networks need to do a better job of creating strong identities for themselves with programming that viewers are passionate about, FX president and CEO Peter Liguori said.
"There's a tyranny of sameness on TV," Liguori said during a presentation Tuesday at the Museum of Television and Radio in Los Angeles. "There's a homogenity across the television landscape of lemmings racing to the middle."
For example, Liguori said, CBS's CSI and NBC's Law & Order and their multiple spin-offs take up many hours of broadcast network prime time, and those shows in syndication fill plenty of time on basic cable nets. "Potentially, 100 hours of TV a week is going to be based on two franchises. I get frustrated when I see cable operators rewarding cable networks for running strings of repeats," he said. "You have to invest in a bench."
At FX, Liguori said, the mission has been to create "not the most popular show, but something that's someone's favorite show." Under that mantra, FX has developed such original basic cable hits as The Shield and Nip/Tuck.
While the cry from Washington has been "clean up TV!" Liguori says FX remains committed to edgy programming, though he points out that The Shield airs after 10 p.m. to keep it away from kids. FX also was careful to promote the show with a TV-MA (for mature audiences only) brand, including discretionary warnings on promos.