Open Mike


Fixing EAS

Editor: Bill McConnell's March 3, 2003, article ["Panel Finds Media Emergency Alert System Needs a Big Fix, p. 27] was brilliant.

Our firm works with FEMA, DoD and Homeland Defense issues as well as the major TV and cable networks with matters directly related to your very informative piece. We only hope that the new Homeland Security Secretary, Tom Ridge, is a subscriber to BROADCASTING & CABLE.

It is essential that the new EAS system transcend all platforms. A terrestrial distribution system that works effectively and synergistically with MSO's, Satellite and RF is long overdue.

Thank you again for your journalistic excellence and addressing an issue of great importance to every American.

Tony Filson, president
Filcro Media Staffing, Government Services Group

The Economics of Reality

I really enjoyed your column regarding reality TV ["Reality. Please. Stop," 1/27, p. 29]. My wife said to me the other night, "What is it with reality TV? It's everywhere." She's right, and so are you.

I have spent about four years away from the broadcast business mining the fields in the broadband industry. It was the late '90s, and I was running a spot-sales team at Blair Television for Gannett Broadcasting when I decided to do the "Internet thing." Now many of us ex-broadcasters/cablers are trying to get back in to the business. But do we really want to?

In the mid '90s, I had a hard time getting advertisers to buy into shows such as Cops
or America's Most Wanted
when I sold ad time for local Fox affiliates. With more and more reality programs scattered across the prime daypart, what are advertisers using to reach upscale audiences on a mass basis? "The Bachelorette
packaged with Celebrity Mole: Hawaii? And I'll discount All American Girl
to make it work on a CPM basis."

Hey, business is business, and the cost to produce a reality show is a mere fraction of producing a star-studded, well-directed, well-produced prime time program. This simple Broadcast Economics 101 statement can be traced back to shows such as Dateline, 20/20, 60 Minutes
etc., which have been huge franchises for the networks for years. The return on investment for those types of programs would make Andrew Fastow (of Enron infamy) proud.

However, for a number of reasons, those programs in the past few years have not drawn in viewers the way "car-accidents-on-the-side-of-the-road" shows such as American Idol, The Bachelor, Fear Factor
and Survivor
do. Is it the moral decay of our society looking back at us through our 32-inch Sony color TV? Or is it just a plain and simple programming strategy to drive a top-line revenue number for the next quarter for Wall Street?

Whatever it is, it sucks.

James Huth, president Remote Vision