Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2009's Excellent 10 - and more

Despite a down year (or decade, depending on your point of view) 2009 has had some good moments too! Here is the best of the best - the Top 10 items of 2009, count them down from ten to one - remember, this list includes not only TV shows, but events as well...

The Excellent 10

10. Glee (Fox). A surprise success - mixing  music and drama... okay, Fame did it first in the 1980's... but it's nice to see another show carrying on the tradition.

9. Family Guy (Fox) Seth McFarlane still has a pulse on what's hilarious.

8. Dr. Oz (syndicated) Another surprise success here - Dr. Memhet Oz has a warm, friendly personality and does a very good job projecting it on screen - and the audience has responded. The guy is smart and he  knows what he's talking about. The biggest hit of the 2009-10 season in syndication.

7. Battlestar Galactica (SyFy) The series closes out its run on a high note. Thank you, Ronald Moore & Co. for the wonderful ride.

6. Mad Men (AMC). It may not be a show that earns great ratings, but it continues to generate plenty of buzz - even Sesame Street has parodied it!

5. The Chicago Blackhawks (Various channels) One of the year's best TV shows came from one of the most exciting hockey teams to grace Chicago in a long time. Led by young stars Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, and Patrick Sharp, this group will be Stanley Cup contenders for years to come. Go Hawks!

4. Dexter (Showtime). Your protagonist is a serial killer? An original, interesting concept - and well written, too. Broadcast networks, are you listening?

3. Mark Buehrle's Perfect Game (Comcast SportsNet, FSN Florida). On July 23 against the Tampa Bay Rays, Mark Buehrle of the Chicago White Sox did something very few pitchers do - pitch a perfect game. But the most dramatic moment of this contest was win Dewayne Wise made a wall-climbing catch in left field in the ninth inning to save Buehrle's perfection. One of the best baseball games ever.

2. The NHL Winter Classic - Chicago Blackhawks vs. Detroit Red Wings at Wrigley Field (NBC, CBC). Wrigley Field looked great as the two Original Six rivals took it outdoors for a regular-season game on New Year's Day that was a lot of fun! (Unfortunately, the Hawks fell to the Red Wings 6-4.)

1. The Big Bang Theory (CBS). Yours truly started watching this sitcom this year - and it is the funniest program on television. Cleverly well-written and well-acted, the nerdy antics of Sheldon and Leonard are certain to go down with other CBS comedy legends like Lucille Ball, Jackie Gleason, Dick Van Dyke, Mary Tyler Moore, Archie Bunker, and that Raymond guy. Take that, Parks and Recreation!

HONORABLE MENTIONS: South Park (Comedy Central), Aqua Teen Hunger Force (Adult Swim), The Office (NBC), Men of a Certain Age (TNT), Survivor: Tocantins (CBS).

Here are more goodies from 2009:

PPM? WHAT PPM? What's all this talk about Arbitron's Portable People Meter not accurately measuring African-American targeted stations? Don't tell this to WVAZ-FM, or V103. The Urban Adult Contemporary station had a great year, finishing in the top five in several key demographics -and this despite the departure of The Tom Joyner Show from the Clear Channel-owned station when it replaced it with The Steve Harvey Show (which got a very nice ratings boost as a result.)

THE MIX IS IN THE MIX: Lead by morning personalities Eric & Kathy, Bonneville's WTMX-FM continues to be Chicago's few radio success stories.

STILL THE ONE: ABC-owned WLS-TV continues its ratings dominance over its competitors in news, and non-network time periods in a streak that has been alive for 23 years - and 2009 was no different.

YOU GOT SCOOPED: Both the New York Times (on Todd Stroger through the Chicago News Cooperative) and (on Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro) scooped both the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times on major stories, pretty much proving their irrelevance.

BACK TO THE GOOD 'OL DAYS - FOR ONE NIGHT ONLY: On November 13, CBS-owned WBBM-TV reunited legendary anchors Bill Kurtis and Walter Jacobson to fill-in for Rob Johnson during the night's 10 p.m. newscast. The end result was a ratings smash - and reminded us of how local news in Chicago used to be done.

THE TALK SHOW WITH MAYBE TOO MUCH EXCITEMENT: Wendy Williams' new syndicated daytime talker - and boy, does she knows now to engage an audience.

THE MUPPET SHOW, ONLY DARKER:  Believe it or not, those Nike Commercials featuring LeBron James and Kobe Bryant - as puppets - were whacked at first, but have grown on yours truly as of late.

BEST SHOW YOURS TRULY SAW LIVE: Seeing Aqua Teen's Matt Mellariro and Dave Willis perform live at the Lakeside Theater.

OUR LONG NATIONAL NIGHTMARE IS OVER: ABC finally cancels According to Jim after eight unfunny seasons.

AH....SATISFACTION. The Pittsburgh Penguins' stunning Game 7 defeat of the hated Red Wings 2-1 on June 12, handing Sidney Crosby his first Stanley Cup and the organization's third.

Coming up next: The top 12 things that made this decade... and the worst.

Vikings-Bears score in the ratings

Well, well, well... I guess the Bears are still relevant in Chicago after all.

Despite a losing season, Bears fans turned out by the boatload for Monday night's game between the Brett Favre-led Minnesota Vikings and the Chicago Bears.

Locally, ABC-owned WLS-TV averaged a 20.6 Nielsen household rating for its ESPN simulcast of the game. ESPN itself added 10.5 rating points to bring the total to a whopping 31.1

Nationally, the game drew a 12.0 household rating - beating all fare on both the broadcast networks (who were heavy in reruns) and cable outlets. Overall, the Vikings-Bears game drew 17 million viewers - ranking it the sixth most watched cable television program of all time.

While Favre was the main attraction, it was the Bears who stole the show - Jay Cutler threw the winning touchdown pass in overtime to beat the Vikings 36-30 in a thrilling game.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Comedy Central cancels "The Jeff Dunham Show"

'Tis the season for cancellations....

A day after Tyra Banks announced she was ending her talk show, Comedy Central decided to pull the plug on The Jeff Dunham Show after only two months on the air, making it one of the shortest-lived cable shows in television history.

The critically-panned sketch comedy show featured ventriloquist Jeff Dunham, who took his puppets out and about in Los Angeles and interacting with real-life people (are you laughing already?)

When Dunham debuted on October 22, he scored the highest rating for a Comedy Central premiere in the network's history, drawing an eye-popping 5.3 million viewers (even higher than South Park, which debuted in 1997.) But the ratings have been in a free fall since, with new episodes this month drawing only around 1.5 million. Obviously, viewers did not like what they saw, and went fleeing for the exits.

The decline is similar to ABC's much-hyped sci-fi drama FlashForward, which lost a third of its audience since its premiere. A recent outing earlier this month drew only a 2.1 rating among adults 18-49. The program is currently being "retooled" and is expected to return in March.

The timing of the decision to end Tyra Banks' and Jeff Dunham's programs is quite unusual - and perhaps suspect - for this time of year, as a lot of people in the industry are on vacation and perhaps the purpose of these announcements was to bury the news while no one is paying attention.

Despite the cancellation of his show, Jeff Dunham will continue to be featured in Comedy Central specials.

Thought: So Jeff Dunham's show gets canned, but not My Mother The Car descendant Secret Girlfriend... the worst program in television history? While Dunham's show clearly earned its cancellation stripes, Comedy Central should have made this a "two-fer Tuesday" - and should've dumped the similarly low-rated Girlfriend as well.

2009's Toilet 10 - and more

Over the next week, we will be reviewing the year in television and other things - the best and worst - as well as the events and issues that helped define the decade.

We'll start at the absolute bottom - with the worst shows and other items in the annual year-end lineup of the Toilet 10 - with a few programs inducted into The T Dog Media Blog TV Hall Of Shame - and some extra special dishonors as well:

The Toilet 10

1. Secret Girlfriend (Comedy Central) No suspense here on who's number one. Hands down, the worst television show of all time. This steaming pile of crap makes My Mother The Car look like The Dick Van Dyke Show (Mr. Van Dyke's brother Jerry was in My Mother The Car.)

2. Chicago Sports (excluding the Blackhawks). Watching Jay Cutler and the Bears were worse than watching anything on NBC and The CW. Both came up as huge disappointments in 2009, even bigger than Jay Leno's show. And the same could be said for the Bulls, Cubs, and White Sox. When it comes to bad TV, our town's sports teams have the market cornered.

3. The Jay Leno Show (NBC). Speaking of bad TV, I guess stripping this five nights a week - in prime-time - wasn't such a good idea after all...

4. Osbournes: Reloaded (Fox). A six-episode tryout turned out to be a very forgettable 35-minute special.

5. Brothers (Fox). What's worse? The 1984-89 Showtime cable series? Or this unrelated show with the same title from 2009? And yes, there's a stinker of a movie with the same title. Enough, Hollywood, Enough.

6. Heroes (NBC). Is this still on the air?

7. WNUA-FM flipping to Spanish Pop. As Dr. Phil would say, "How's that working out for ya?" (he would say it Spanish, but he doesn't know how.) In May, this station flipped to a Spanish format and it has yet to pay dividends.

8. I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here! (NBC) With Patti Blagoveich in the mix, the program's ratings were highest in guess where? That's right, Chicago. It's no surprise, we're used to watching crap (see #2.)

9. Kris Allen's signing career. He won American Idol last spring, remember? Apparently you don't as his new CD sold less than 80,000 copies. His runner-up? He sold more than 200,000. As for Idol itself, the show lost Paula Abdul but added Ellen DeGeneres (debit), and Simon Cowell may be leaving next year. It really doesn't matter - Chicago viewers have already tuned out Idol before the rest of the nation apparently does.

10. Sit Down, Shut Up (Fox). Hey, you thought this animated show was funny? Sit down and shut up.

DISHONORABLE MENTION: Jon & Kate, Plus Eight (TLC) - and their tabloid antics; Celebrity Apprentice (NBC), FlashForward (ABC), The Beautiful Life (CW), Melrose Place (CW), Parks & Recreation (NBC), The Real Housewives of...any city, county, state, or province - especially Atlanta (Bravo).

And now, the items that made media in 2009 quite unbearable:

LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT THE NIGHT CHICAGO DIED... Boy, that song was played a lot this year... Not a good year for Chicago...  Aside from most of our sports teams stinking up the joint, there was ... President Obama took office - and fell on his face... Chicago did likewise with its Olympic bid... The city's public image took a beating with Governor Rod Blagoveich being impeached and a viral video of a major fight between teenagers in Roseland resulting in the death of Derrion Albert... Jennifer Hudson's Christmas special bombed in the ratings, while she, Oprah Winfrey, Steve Wilkos, and Jerry Springer all fled the Windy City... while our own Kanye West made a jackass out of himself by interrupting Taylor Swift's acceptance speech at the Video Music Awards.... Whew! 2009 is a year to forget if you're a Chicagoan. And yours truly sums it all up here... and here.

CHICAGO MEDIA. Meanwhile, Chicago journalism continues to be a laughingstock with this inane editorial from The Tribune - and this one, while Tera Williams of WFLD-TV showed her journalism skills are lacking when she ambushed Mayor Daley with an inappropriate question at a news conference. Meanwhile, technical snaufs were the norm at that station and WMAQ-TV. In other news Mike Barz of WFLD's Good Day Chicago was shown the door while unfortunately, the grating Jan Jeffcoat was not. Meanwhile, viewers continue to tune out the 10 p.m. newscasts. Gee, I wonder why?

NOT A BEAUTIFUL THING:  Chicago Sports Webio's internet radio station and website went under in June after investor David Hernandez was discovered to be involved in a ponzi scheme. Mike North (who was also an investor in the venue) and his on-air partner (Dan Jiggetts) had their Monsters in the Morning show canceled and now head to WBBM-Channel 2 in the sure-to-fail Monsters And Money In The Morning Show.

CHAPTER 11 FOLLIES: Citadel (owners of WLS-AM and FM) and NextMedia (owners of several suburban radio stations) filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. But don't worry - it literally means nothing, given the crowd screwing up the Tribune Company (lead by uber-morons Sam Zell and Randy Michaels) are keeping their jobs.

IT"S JUST AS BITTERSWEET THE SECOND TIME AROUND: Jonathan Brandmeier leaves WLUP-FM for the second time - and takes a shot (or a dump) at his former employer in this funny video.

STILL IRRELEVANT EVEN AFTER ACQUIRING THE BIGGEST NAME IN URBAN RADIO: Crawford seemed headed for a huge boost after WSRB-FM (Soul 106.3) acquired The Tom Joyner Morning Show after it left its longtime WVAZ-FM home, and WPWX-FM (Power 92) was closing the gap on its Urban rival (WGCI-FM), which it would actually live up to its slogan ("#1 in the streets") for the first time. At year's end however, Soul 106.3 continued to struggle and after a ratings drop, Power 92 returned to "obscurity in the streets".

CHEAP CHANNEL DOES IT AGAIN: Adult Contemporary WLIT-FM fired morning personality Melissa Forman (for a second time - notice a theme here?) replaced by Sean Valentine's voice-tracked show.

DISAPPOINTMENT OF THE YEAR: A tie been the Bears' Jay Cutler and ABC's much hyped FlashForward. Both were clearly huge letdowns.

YOU'VE BEEN SCREWED: Mya Harrison from Dancing With The Stars and Russell Hantz from Survivor: Samoa were the best contestants on their respective shows this season - but were screwed over and lost at the end, thanks to a system we know all too well in Chicago.

ARE THESE GUYS STILL RELEVANT? NATPE suffered a 14 percent drop in attendance this year in Las Vegas, which executives avoided like the plague. Instead of moving the convention to Los Angeles so they can be near the Hollywood community, NATPE decided to move it to Miami for 2011. Just great. But give them credit -  an even worst move would've been to Chicago.

ARE THESE GUYS STILL RELEVANT, PART 2: My Network TV ceases to be a network to become a "programming service". Were they even a network to begin with?

TWO BECOMES ONE AND WE'RE ALL BETTER FOR IT: The first full year of Sirius/XM was beget with narrower playlists, a price increase, shuttering of music channels (all from the XM side), canceling the 1980's version of American Top 40 and replacing it with a lame countdown hosted by former MTV VJs, and now Howard Stern may be walking out the door. Once again, Mel Karmazin proved he couldn't find a medium he can single-handily destroy.

NBC. Limo-for-a-Lam-O finally drives away from the fourth-place network, but Jeff Zucker gets a contract extension. NBC's new owner (Comcast) probably would've been better off if it gave Lovie Smith the job. Meanwhile, the local O&O fared no better, with its now-retired longtime news anchor proving himself to be a major douchebag (and the situation provided this blog with one of the best posts I have ever written) and canceling long-time political news show City Desk for something called The Talk.

Let's hope 2010 is much better than this.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Tyra Banks' talk show to end

In a move that comes as quite surprising, Tyra Banks announced today she is ending her talk show after five seasons on the air, despite doing respectable numbers in key demos.

The Tyra Show was traded to The CW last September from first-run syndication, where it spent the last four years - for Judge Jeanne Pirro, which aired on the network last year. It looks like first-run got the better end of the deal, as the Chicago-based courtroom show was recently renewed for two more seasons. Both shows are produced by Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution.

The CW has aired back-to-back episodes of Tyra from 3 to 5 p.m. in all time zones this season. Locally, the program airs on WGN-TV with the last four years being spent at WPWR-TV. Next season, her show will air in repeats from 3 to 4 p.m. only, with CW holding off on a decision to fill the 4 to 5 p.m. slot for now (keep in mind these plans may change - remember last year when CW said they were programming Sunday for the long haul and wound up giving the night back to affiliates? The same could happen here.) 

Even though the program was salvaged by critics (including yours truly), Ms. Banks' show did well among young females, though the numbers pale in comparison to what Ricki Lake's talk show did in those same demos during her heyday.

Ms. Banks plans to devote more time to developing more projects for her Bankable Productions, including feature films, and of course America's Next Top Model

With the move, The CW continues to find reliable programming in early fringe elusive since ends the Kids' WB afternoon animated block in 2005 (when it was known as The WB.), and provides yet another headache for the struggling network.

Friday, December 25, 2009

A reminder about commenting on posts, Part 2

Hoping you are enjoying your holidays, but there's a serious issue I have to bring up. Over the last few weeks, the comments section of this blog has been hit by spammers. Worst, some of the spam is in various foreign languages. Just a friendly reminder that any spam on this blog WILL NOT BE TOLERATED - IN ENGLISH OR ANY OTHER LANGUAGE AND WILL BE PROMPTLY REMOVED. If this continues, I'll have no choice but to require registration to comment on stories. Yours truly can't update this blog if he has to spend all freakin' day removing spam! This is a place to provide feedback, not to sell worthless shit. Please click on and read "A reminder about commenting on posts" on the sidebar just below the Twitter Updates. Keep your comment in relation to the subject matter. If you are a spammer - keep on walkin' and don't hit your ass on the way out. You are not wanted here. 

I appreciate your feedback - in fact, I more than encourage it - but please behave.

Thanks for understanding, and Happy Holidays!


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

T Dog's Four pack - The Santa edition

Ho! Ho! Ho! Merry Everyone! Terry Claus is here to deliver some goodies to the good little children... and coal to those who are not-so-good! Who won and who lost...

Gifts under the tree

- The Doctors. Christmas came early for the one hour medical talk show strip with seasons three and four cleared in 85 percent of the country. 

- Entertainment Magazines. A note of thank you from Tiger Woods, whose sexcapades have boosted ratings for syndicated news magazines, E!, and sleazy tabloid websites galore. To thank them, Tiger sent all female reporters at those shows a bouquet of flowers - and a card urging them to come to his estate in Orlando and "Party With the Tiger."

Personally, I'm glad Mr. High and Mighty finally got pulled down, aren't you? Yours truly never really liked him.

- Dexter. The season finale of the hour-long psychodrama recently gave Showtime its highest ratings in the history of the premium channel. You don't want to see him in a Santa Claus suit. Trust me.

- Stan Lee. A special gift for Marvel Comic fans this Saturday: Stan Lee, the legendary Marvel icon, will voice a character in a new episode of The Super Hero Squad Show on Cartoon Network airing at 6:30 p.m. (CT) . In the story, Lee voices the mayor of Super Hero City in a plot that can be described as very Chicago-like when it comes to politics (special thanks to ComicFanBoyz for the Twitter post)

Coal in their stockings:

- The Survivor Screwjob. First, there was the Montreal Screwjob. Then the Dancing With The Stars Screwjob. And now, we have the Survivor Screwjob. The jury picked Natalie White as the winner of Survivor: Samoa - never mind Russell Hentz (annoying as he was, but entertaining to watch) was the best player in the show all season. You think Natalie corralled Todd Stroger, Mayor Daley, and Governor Roddy to convince the jury (with dolla, dolla bills y'all) to decide the winner "The Chicago Way". Somewhere, Vince McMahon, Donny Osmond, and a lot of machine politicians are smiling.

- The Chicago Bears and Chicago Bulls. Being in this part of the column says it all.

- Jennifer Hudson: I'll Be Home For Christmas. Unfortunately, our town's woes even extended to Jennifer Hudson, whose Chicago-filmed special did not generate any interest when it aired on December 7. The special only drew five million viewers for ABC (which hardly promoted the special), finishing a distant fourth in its time period and even finished behind The Jay Leno Show in adults 18-49. Maybe our town should step out of the national spotlight for awhile...

- Citadel and NextMedia file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy - within 48 hours of one another. Overspend, overspend, overspend so we can get big, bigger, and even more bigger. File for Chapter 11, schuck and jive to the bankruptcy judge, the key personnel who f***ed up the stations get to keep their jobs while laying off everyone else and its back to normal in a year or two. Worked for Tribune, didn't it?

In Memoriam

- Brittany Murphy died on Sunday due to natural causes at the age of 32. Murphy was best known as the voice of Luanne Platter on King of the Hill, but also appeared in the films Just Married, 8 Mile, Clueless, and The Dead Girl. She also provided voices to characters in the movie Happy Feet. Other television credits included Fraiser, Blossom, Almost Home, and Murphy Brown.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

CBS makes post-Super Bowl slot decision

The Church of Tisch has done it again.

CBS announced it will slot Undercover Boss in the coveted post-Super Bowl time slot on February 7. Undercover Boss is a new reality show which features a supervisor who goes undercover to see if can do a real job at his company.

This marks the first time in over a decade a new program is being launched in the post-Super Bowl slot. Fox launched Family Guy after Super Bowl XXXI on January 31, 1999 as a special preview. The series returned three months later. 

Thought: This sounds like a plot from some B-level sitcom - in fact, it is - Diff'rent Strokes aired an episode during the 1984-85 season in which Mr. Drummond disguised himself as a worker in one of his factories. (The episode was titled Blue Collar Drummond, and it aired on March 9, 1985.) Good grief, is this where ideas for television shows are coming from now? Can't wait for the reality show featuring kids hanging out a bicycle shop just waiting to be molested by the owner.

In one of the most incoherent posts yours truly has ever wrote on a message board (believe me, there have been many), here's what I had to say about the matter on PI Feedback (scroll down):

"Congratulations to The Church of Tisch on such a great move! Pastor Moonves and his flock must really feel good about themselves... using an unproven reality show instead of "The Big Bang Theory", "The Mentalist", or the new edition of "Survivor" to launch after the Super Bowl... to perform worst than "Three Rivers". Boy, oh boy, you guys made ol' Larry Tisch proud! I can hear him celebrating in hell... in which the broadcast networks will be headed thanks to moves like these. Oh, oh... here comes the collection plate to pay for Nina Tassler's lunch. Imbeciles."

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

"Springer" heads to WCIU

NBC Universal's Jerry Springer, the wild and willy daytime talk show that hasn't met a taboo it can smash (or a chair), is moving in the Chicago market to WCIU-TV in September 2010.

No time slot has been determined yet, but the program is expected to be paired up with The Steve Wilkos Show, a show spun-off from Springer in 2007 which WCIU acquired this season from WGN-TV, after two unproductive seasons.

Springer had been airing on Fox-owned WPWR-TV in a variety of time periods over the years, and ratings for the show have been nearly non-existent. In the last year or so, the program ranked dead last in households and key demos - a very far cry from the ratings it  used to do in its 2 p.m. time slot on NBC-owned WMAQ-TV in 1997 and 1998, where household numbers of 9 and 10 were quite common.

After the Rev. Michael Pflager threatened a boycott of WMAQ because of the show's violent content, general manager Larry Wert dropped the show and was picked up by WFLD-TV for airing at 11 a.m. But as ratings declined over the years, the program was dumped onto WPWR's lower-rated schedule.

In the October book, Springer did a 0.4 household rating and a 2 share and a 0.6/2 at 11 a.m. and 12  p.m., respectively [1]. Once a staple of several Fox-owned stations' daytime lineups, only two are left who are currently airing Springer - WPWR and KUTP in Phoenix.

According to Robert Feder blog's at Vocalo, Weigel plans to install a web camera at Springer's studio in Stamford, Connecticut (I'm not making this up), where it and Wilkos re-located from Chicago earlier this year, joining Maury, which moved from New York City.

A month ago, Springer, Wilkos, and Maury were all renewed through 2012 by NBC Universal, which 51 percent of the company is in the process of being acquired by Comcast.

Even though Springer is tame today compared to a lot of reality TV programming (see Flavor of Love, Jersey Shore, and Bad Girls Club), the program is still on a lot of advertisers' hit lists and national advertising consists of mostly direct-response spots.

[1] - "Special Edition #2" ratings for October 2009, Katz Media Group. Retrieved 2009-11-05. 

Monday, December 14, 2009

Macon, Ga. station dumps ABC affiliation

Is it retransmission consent? Or is it content? (no, I'm not confusing the two.)

Yours truly doesn't usually report on the happenings in the Macon, Ga. media world (because, hell there isn't anything to report, given the market's CBS affiliate has dominated the ratings since Adam took a bite of that apple.) But this one caught this one's eye...

ABC affiliate WPGA-TV in Macon - a city about 100 miles southeast of Atlanta - announced it was dropping the network on January 1, 2010 and becoming independent, partly because the station failed to come to terms over retransmission content money the network is demanding and the elimination of compensation.

As a result of the disaffiliation of ABC, Cox is bumping WPGA off Channel 6 on its cable system and replacing it with one of WGXA-TV's subchannels, which will carry the ABC affiliation, with a deal now pending (the main channel carries Fox programming.) WGXA was an ABC affiliate from 1982 until 1996, when it switched to Fox in the Fox-New World affiliation swap era (WGXA was never owned by Fox, though.)

But WPGA officials said the station will stay on Channel 6 on Cox's cable systems after the switch and may threaten legal action if it is removed. Cox counters it has a right to remove WPGA off the channel because the station's decision to drop ABC - and WPGA failed to certify its "must-carry" status prior to the transition. Must-carry status is when a station (like WJYS-TV here in Chicago) declines compensation in exchange for carriage on a cable system, which doesn't cost them a penny.

Other cable companies in the Macon area plan to keep WPGA in its Channel 6 position because of its must-carry status. 

But another reason why WPGA may be dropping its affiliation with ABC is because of - get this... the network's risque programming. You heard right. The station plans to run more "family-friendly" shows, including programming from Retro TV Network and This TV, in addition to existing syndicated fare.

Lowell Register - who is President of Register Communications, the station's owner - said ABC's programming is too raunchy for his station. In October, this is what he told The Macon Telegraph: "I had somebody tell me they're running a good bit of gay and lesbian stuff on it. That's really just in-your-face, so to speak, and I'm not sure that's appropriate. That's happening in prime time. I'm not really happy with it."

But yet, one of the station's syndicated programs is The Ellen DeGeneres Show, which runs on WPGA weekday mornings at 9 a.m. and is moving to 5 p.m. beginning in January, when the station drops ABC. I guess Mr. Register doesn't know Ms. DeGeneres is a lesbian. 

And if he's talking about running more "family-friendly programming", I don't see it in a syndicated lineup consisting of Law & Order: SVU, The A-Team, TMZ, and weekend reruns of Desperate Housewives, Grey's Anatomy, and Cold Case. In fact, if Mr. Register is complaining about ABC prime-time programming - which is home to Desperate Housewives and Grey's Anatomy, why does he still have them in his station's lineup in syndication? (besides contractual obligations.)

And if he's talking about ABC airing inappropriate programming, maybe he should take a look at Fox and CW, whose programming is far raunchier than ABC's. I guess Mr. Register thought Gossip Girl and Family Guy were both ABC shows - after all, the idiot had someone tell him what was airing on his own station, since he didn't know himself.

The case he's making for why he had to drop ABC from his station's lineup are reasonable, given the looming battles between stations, cable operators, and the major networks over retransmission consent. But adding an unnecessary reason - because of "risque" shows and "gay and lesbian stuff" is moronic, bigoted, stupid, and lacks merit. If word of these comments makes it back to Ms. DeGeneres, she and Warner Bros. should demand her show be taken off this station in Macon and moved to a more deserving outlet.

Trading in popular ABC programming for retreads from the 1960's and 1970's isn't what I call good business sense (he could have signed on with My Network TV - even the fare they're running is better than what he has planned for prime-time.) I guess there is a reason CBS affiliate WMAZ-TV has dominated the ratings in this market for decades - and not just because it was the only VHF station in the market in the analog era. Their dominance was so overwhelming, both WPGA and NBC affiliate WMGT-TV suspended their news operations for a time.

And it's hard to feel sorry for him and his station when he talks about being "squeezed by the big guys" - but behaves just like them when it comes to poor decision-making. Big media companies certainly don't have a monopoly on the practice.

So for those of you who thought Chicago was the only media market whose media outlets are run by incompetent buffoons - think again. Somewhere in North America, there's always a place where media outlets are run by buffoons who are even more incompetent.

T Dog's Four Pack

The past week's winners and losers... Kool-Aid Man style.

Oh, yeah.

Roe Conn. Roe Conn? Yes, you read right. Despite less-than-stellar numbers, Roe Conn is expected to sign a contract renewal with WLS-AM for a lower salary, despite parent company Citadel becoming the latest media company to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader. In an item in Marc Berman's Programming Insider last week, the syndicated version of this former Fox prime-time show has averaged an eye-popping 2.1 HH rating season-to-date, easily topping the fading Family Feud and Deal or No Deal. The program ranked fourth among all syndicated game shows in HH, and third in Women 18-49 and Women 25-54, again ahead of Feud and Deal- and Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.

The Closer. The season premiere of the TNT drama drew 6.1 million viewers on December 7, leading in to the premiere of new drama Men of a Certain Age, which drew 5.4 million in its first outing.

Real Housewives of Atlanta may shred two cast members. The bitchy Nene Leakes and overbearing Kim Zolciak may be headed out the door. Obscurity, here they come!

Oh, no. (a round of Wyler's punch for everybody)

Prime-time TV in Chicago.
The December 6 Bears-Rams game outdrew most prime-time shows in Chicago? Bulls' ratings are up from last year? Yes, we'll watch bad sports teams, but draw the line at Parks and Recreation, Heroes, Jay Leno, and just about any reality show.

Daytime Soaps.
With the cancellation of As The World Turns, this genre may finally be on its way out.

Over-the-air broadcast TV.
On both sides of the 49th parallel, there's talk of doing away with free, over-the-air TV - in Canada because the broadcasters want retrans fees and may cease to exist if they don't get it;  and in the United States, broadcasters need more of it - plus, a looming threat to reclaim the spectrum for wireless and broadband use. This sucks, but will anyone miss it? It looks like the greed of these companies who own these outlets has finally caught up with them.

The word "shout-out". 
You hear it on Pardon The Interrution every day, and I've read it in stories on Broadcasting & Cable's website. Enough with the urban slang. If Tom Joyner doesn't do shout-outs, why should you guys?

"Doctors" renewed until 2012

Weigel stations pick up show for third and fourth seasons

CBS Television Distribution has renewed The Doctors for its third and fourth seasons.

CBS has also renewed the show in more than 85 percent of the country, including CBS-owned stations that currently carry the show with WCBS-TV in New york City and KCBS-TV in Los Angeles upping the show for two years.

Here in Chicago, Doctors airs on Weigel's WCIU-TV, which apparently has renewed the show, as did its sister station in Milwaukee, CBS affiliate WDJT-TV.

Currently in its second season, The Doctors has been a surprise success for CBS Television Distribution and all involved, including Dr. Phil McGraw (whose Dr. Phil talk show has already been renewed until 2014) and his son Jay, who heads Stage 29 Productions, the outfit who produces the show. The program uses a panel format to discuss medical issues and demonstrate medical procedures.The show also answers questions sent in by viewers.

The mixture is working - ratings for the show are up 18 percent from last year.

The Doctors could also be in line for some upgrades with Oprah Winfrey hanging up her mic in September 2011.

The Doctors premiered on September 8, 2008, and is seen in Canada, Finland, and Sweden. The series is not related to the former NBC daytime soap opera of the same name, which ran from 1963 to 1982. 

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

CBS stops the globe on "As The World Turns"

After 54 years on CBS' daytime schedule, the globe will stop spinning on As The World Turns come September 17 of next year.

The cancellation was made official today by CBS, and as a result, Procter & Gamble Productions is likely no more.

As The World Turns began on April 2, 1956 as a thirty-minute serial - the same day another P&G-produced soap (The Edge of Night) premiered on CBS. The program began broadcasting in color in 1967 and expanded to a full hour in December 1975 to fill the vacant half-hour left after The Edge of Night departed for ABC, becoming the first soap to move to a rival network (Night would end its run in late 1984.)

In 1963, As The World Turns was in progress - being performed live - when it was interrupted for a very important news bulletin - the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Throughout its long run, As The World Turns racked up numerous Daytime Emmy Awards, with the last Outstanding Drama Award win coming in 2003.

The program had been airing in the 2 p.m.Eastern/1 p.m. Central time slot since March 1987, and has been cleared in-pattern with a strong 99 percent clearance rate. But since sister series Guiding Light left the airwaves on September 18 after a 72-year run (on both radio and TV), Turns has fallen into the soap opera ratings basement, with just a little over 2 million viewers per day.

With the departure of Turns, Procter & Gamble has no daytime serials left, with one after the other leaving the airwaves: in addition to Edge of Night leaving in 1984, Search For Tomorrow exited in 1986, followed by Another World in 1999, and Guiding Light this year.

As The World Turns' departure means there will be only six daytime serials left on the broadcast networks' sked next fall - the fewest at this point in television history. Twenty years ago, there were as many as twelve soaps on the networks' schedules. 

CBS - which has been the daytime leader for more than 20 years - will replace Turns with either a game show or a talk show, which are cheaper to produce than scripted soapers. Those plans are bad news for syndicators, who have an abundance of product and are looking for timeslots for the 2010 season.

The move comes only a day after Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution pulled the plug on The Bonnie Hunt Show, after two seasons.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Warner Bros. cancels "Bonnie Hunt"

Chicago-born comedian Bonnie Hunt has lost her talk show.

Ms. Hunt announced to her staffers today that The Bonnie Hunt Show would not return for a third season. The program had two-year contracts with the NBC owned-and-operated stations (including WMAQ-TV here in Chicago), but it appears NBC has passed on renewing the show on its owned stations for a third season.

Ratings were definately not on her side - recently, the show averaged a 0.8 Nielsen household rating, ranking it near the bottom of syndicated talk shows, only ahead of NBC Universal's The Martha Stewart Show, which also airs on those same NBC O&Os (with the exception of  WRC-TV in Washington, which does not air Martha.)

Warner Bros. had no comment. There was talk if Hunt's talk show was renewed for a third season, it possibly could move production to her hometown of Chicago.

With Hunt out of the picture, NBC stations' could pick up MomLogic from Warner for a replacement, but the renewal chances of both Martha and Deal or No Deal - another ratings laggard - have suddenly gone up - and both shows' syndicator being NBC Universal doesn't hurt, either. Last week, Martha had an 0.6 rating; Deal an 1.1.

NBC-owned stations have picked up off-cable repeats of The Real Housewives... for this fall and could easily plug that show into Hunt's former slots.

NBC affiliates buck the trend in Detroit, D.C.

Believe it or not, there are places where NBC affiliates actually won late news despite having The Jay Leno Show as its lead-in.

What's notable is these two NBC affiliates - WRC-TV in Washington, D.C. and WDIV in Detroit, rose in the ratings ranks as recently as ten years ago, when NBC was enjoying ratings dominance - surpassing former market leaders WUSA-TV (CBS) and WXYZ-TV (ABC), respectively.

- In Washington, D.C. NBC-owned WRC won the 11 p.m. news race despite having Leno as a lead-in, with the rating increasing dramatically when his talk show ended for the evening. WRC also dominated other news time slots as well.

Despite several controversial reports on breast cancer - which featured women giving themseleves exams with the breast obscured - and hometown favorite Mya competing in the finals of ABC's Dancing With The Stars, WJLA-TV could only muster up a second-place finish behind WRC at 11 p.m.  The station also finished second in other dayparts as well.

Fox's WTTG finished third at 5 and 6 p.m., and its 10 p.m. newscast finished ahead of 11 p.m. news programs on WJLA and WUSA. Twenty years ago, WUSA was the market's most dominant station.

-In Detroit, WDIV finished first at 11 p.m, despite Leno as its' lead-in, beating WXYZ even with a stronger prime-time lineup. Even better for WDIV, its late newscast topped all other NBC affiliates late news in households in the top 20 markets and was up 12 percent from last year.

WDIV also dominated newscasts at 5 and 6 p.m., and its syndicated programming lineup of Ellen, Dr. Oz, Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! all won their time periods in households and key demos.

Meanwhile, Fox-owned WJBK-TV won mornings with its newscasts ranking first in households from 4:30 a.m. to 10 a.m.

Also, NBC affiliate KSL-TV in Salt Lake City stayed on top of the 10 p.m. news race in that market even with Leno as a lead-in. Bonneville-owned KSL is an institution in Salt Lake City, which has finished on top for decades - whether it was affiliated with CBS (which it was until 1995) or NBC.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

T Dog's Four Pack - We'll have a grand old time

It's been two weeks, so a T Dog Media Blog Four Pack is long overdue... with a little bit of a Flintstones twist...

Hanging out with Fred and Barney. Yabba Dabba Doo!

-V103. The most (and only) surprising item in the recently concluded Arbitron PPM November survey is the strong performance of Urban AC WVAZ-FM, who ranked second in 12+ and ranked at or near the top in every major demo, including a strong performance from Steve Harvey's morning show (who made not one, but TWO trips to Chicago recently, including an appearance a Kmart in the West Lawn neighborhood on Chicago's Southwest Side.) WVAZ even re-hired former midday personality Troi Tyler for Sunday nights and other fill-in work. V103 is making all the right moves - and yes, it's still owned by Clear Channel.

TNT cancels Raising The Bar. I've never seen a drama that couldn't live up to its title.

Turner Sports fires Chip Caray. More good news from Turner:  The cable network also severed ties with former Cubs broadcaster Chip Caray. Why? This is all you need to know..."Line drive. Base hit. Caught out there. The runner tags. Throw to the plate. On target. And in time. A double play!"

Fox. A first-ever November sweeps victory in adults 18-49 - with an assist from the 2009 World Series Champion New York Yankees - three World Series games aired during the sweeps.

Hanging out with Joe Rockhead

- The Loop.What's the opposite of the success of V103? Try The Loop, or Emmis-owned WLUP-FM (97.9). They fired morning personality Jonathan Brandmeier this past week after four years at the station (in addition to the first fifteen he spent there) and decided to focus more on playing music in morning drive. Like wow, this means they can play Pearl Jam, Aerosmith, and Def Lepperd ten more times per day. Yabba Dabba Don't.

- Monsters and Money In The Morning. So the management at The Church of Tisch think Mike North and Dan Jiggetts can replicate its "success" at Comcast SportsNet. This will be about a successful as the other"experiment" going on at NBC regarding Jay Leno in primetime - both will be gone by September. Hell, WBBM-TV would've been better off hiring Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble to front their morning show.

- Fall Finales. So fans of Glee, V, and FlashForward (um... are there even any FlashForward fans left?) have to wait three to four months to see new episodes? Do we have a second summer season now? And you wonder why network prime-time television is dying.

- Donny Osmond "wins" Dancing With The Stars. Let's see. Donny Osmond wins over a much more deserving Mya. Dancing usually does its best ratings in Chicago. We're know internationally for letting people "vote early and often", and even the dead can vote (which may account for a large amount of Osmond's fan base.) Coincidence? The "Chicago Way" strikes again, where the best candidate doesn't win, but the worst. To yours truly, Mya will always be the winner of the ninth season of Dancing With The Stars (and course, looking so fine doesn't hurt either...)

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Comcast and NBC Universal announce merger

Big Media only gets bigger

With Comcast's $13.75 billion dollar deal for NBC Universal practically complete, it looks like big media is only going to get bigger - whether we like it or not.

The deal climaxes weeks of speculation, as NBC owner General Electric recently bought out Vivendi's 20 percent share in NBC Universal, paving the way for Comcast Corp. to acquire 51 percent of the struggling broadcast network and its vast array of media properties ranging from local stations in 10 markets (including WMAQ-TV in Chicago) to cable channels to Universal Studios. GE would keep a 49 percent stake in the studio.

Also included in the deal is NBC Universal's TV library, which includes current shows like Heroes, Deal or No Deal, The Office, and The Jerry Springer Show and classic television properties Magnum P.I., The A-Team, Quincy, Coach, Gimme A Break!, and Leave it to Beaver

Universal itself has gone under numerous ownership changes before NBC and GE bought the film studio in 2004: it was once owned by Matsushita Electric Co. and Seagram.

The theory here is Comcast wants to jump on the Hollywood content bandwagon, though the Philadelphia-based cable operator already owns a handful of cable nets including E!, Style, Versus, and G4. With NBC Universal's purchase, Comcast would also own Bravo, Oxygen, USA, and MSNBC, among others.

Comcast would also own the broadcaster network itself, the ten NBC owned-and-operated stations, NBC Plus, and Universal Sports.

The deal will no doubt raise regulatory flags as the FCC would have to approve the deal, since it involves the transfer of station licenses of the ten O&Os - meaning the process could take up to a year. While some say the Obama administration could frown on the deal, Comcast-NBC would likely pass regulatory muster, despite the FCC having a 3-2 Democratic majority (and if the FCC won't approve it, there's a outside chance Congress could.)

Another concern is Comcast's stance against net neutrality, and NBC's participation in online video service Hulu, which competes with Comcast's on-demand pay service. These concerns has raised the ire of many public interest and consumer groups, in which they fear Comcast - which is the nation's largest cable and ISP provider - would control too much content, especially online. While some Democrats will be sympathetic to the group's concerns, it is not likely to be enough to stop the merger.

NBC Universal Chairman Jeff Zucker would remain with the newly merged company, despite the problems he's had with the broadcast side of the network. Though NBC has faltered under his watch the last few years (especially with the move of Jay Leno to prime-time five nights a week), he's put together a string of successful cablers.

NBC came known to prominence as a pioneering radio broadcaster owned by the one-time largest radio manufacturer, RCA. NBC developed two radio networks - red and blue, with the latter one being divested and became the American Broadcasting Company. RCA later developed an all-electronic television system and developed the first-ever test pattern. Of course, it needed programming to fill the new technology, so it formed the NBC Television Network.

RCA then developed color TV and NBC soon began airing the majority of its programming in color. The peacock network was so successful with the new technology, it was able to lure Walt Disney and his weekly TV series away from ABC in 1961 so be can produce the shows in color (in fact, the title was "Disney's Wonderful World of Color" until 1969. Disney shows would be on NBC until 1981.)

General Electric bought RCA and NBC in 1986, and wound up with more people who had expertise in light bulbs, microwave ovens, and defense contracts than running a TV network. GE was often the target of jokes by one-time employee David Letterman.

With this deal ready to be offically announced Thursday, some are lamenting the huge changes in the industry. Who would have ever thought a cable company would wind up owning a major broadcast network? Cable - the entity at one time people used to only get a clear picture into their homes and when it was able to add channels, they mostly consisted of old movies and bullfights. Many feel with this change, the prestige of free, over-the-air television no longer exists. It would now play a second fiddle to cable. Oh my, how times have changed.

Updated at 7:37 p.m. 

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

WBBM-TV to handle Monsters and some Money in the Morning

In a surprise move, CBS-owned WBBM-TV announced it is dropping its current morning show and has hired Mike North, Dan Jiggetts, and financial analyst Terry Savage to host Monsters and Money In The Morning, beginning on February 1.The program is scheduled to run from 5 to 7 a.m., leading-in to the network's Early Show.

The program once again reunites North and Jiggetts, who recently fronted Monsters In the Morning on Comcast SportsNet, which is ending its run at the end of this month. As you recall, Monsters was produced by North's production company and tied in with, an Internet sports radio station. But it all became unglued in June when the financier in the web venture (David Hernandez) was arrested for operating a ponzi scheme.

The new show will feature North and Jiggetts discuss sports headlines, with Sun-Times columnist Terry Savage and CNBC host Mike Hegedus discussing financial matters. Susan Carson will handle news headlines and traffic, and Mary Kay Kleist handles the weather.

WBBM-AM (a CBS-owned sister station) is also expected to contribute to the new morning program.

General Manager Bruno Cohen stated the station wanted to target an underserved audience - those who are sports fans and those who want to keep up with their money and finances.

Currently, the station ranks last among households and in key demos in the 5 to 7 a.m. time slot.

Thought: Remember 12 months ago where yours truly said NBC moving Jay Leno to primetime as a weeknight strip was a good idea and predicted the move would work and provide an alternative to scripted dramas at 9pm?

Yeah, look how that turned out. Oh lordy, I'm not making that mistake again....

While Monsters and Money In The Morning seems to look good on paper, it's not likely to work, given North and Jiggetts did not draw an audience on Comcast SportsNet, and it's not likely they will draw one on WBBM-TV either.

But yours truly is interested in seeing how this project is executed, and it may not be as bad as people think. Then again, I said the same thing about Leno's show...

If Monsters and Money In The Morning fails (and it will), you think Channel 2 can hire Leno to front the morning show? We all know he'll be unemployed soon...

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

WBBM-TV 10 p.m. news soars in the ratings

Leno hampering NBC affiliates' late news; other November "sweeps" notes

ABC-owned WLS-TV dominated the ratings in households and key demos in the just concluded November "sweeps" period (do we still have those in this LPM era?) but it was the two other network O&Os who made headlines.

NBC-owned WMAQ-TV slipped to third place in households at 10 p.m., behind a surging WBBM-TV, which finished second at 10 p.m.

Under anchor Rob Johnson and an improved news product, the CBS-owned station was up 40 percent from November 2008's numbers. Fueling the rise was the one-night only reunion of former anchors Bill Kurtis and Walter Jacobson, who drew a 7.3 HH (household) rating on November 13.

Thanks to The Jay Leno Show as its lead-in, WMAQ's 10 p.m. newscast was down  from year-ago time period averages.

In the 9 p.m. news race, WGN-TV beat Fox's WFLD, but both finished the month with less-than-impressive numbers. Both stations were down from last year- WGN down 27 percent; WFLD down 8 percent. Booth stations appear to be hurt by the high number of DVR usage in the time period, which is also affecting Leno's show.

Overall, this was a pretty weak survey for late news in Chicago, with everyone except WBBM down from last year. 

Meanwhile, "The Leno effect" is hurting NBC stations coast-to-coast: A brief synopsis of Novemeber late-fringe news races from across the country:

Philadelphia: Similar to Chicago: ABC's WPVI sweeps the competition. Again. But CBS-owned KYW-TV shows gains while NBC's WCAU-TV takes it on the chin.

Thought: On a side note, the linked article in this story is the worst I've ever read regarding ratings. We don't need a history lesson regarding WPVI and KYW (who the writer is overly biased toward), and not once the writer mentioned Jay Leno as one of the main reasons WCAU is faltering in late news. This "journalist" even makes Lewis Lazare look good. Oh, Ellen Gray and Gail Schister, where are you?

Dallas-Fort Worth: CBS-owned KTVT wins at 10 p.m., besting Belo's ABC affiliate WFAA in HH - but not in 25-54s, where WFAA rules. NBC-owned KXAS finishes a distant third at 10 p.m. in households, but finished second at 5 and 6 p.m.

Fox-owned KDFW finished second in the 25-54 demo in most other time periods, and finished first at 5 p.m. At 9 p.m., it beat Tribune's KDAF-TV head-to-head in households and 25-54 and both outdrew the 7-to-9 p.m. newscasts on indie KTXA in both categories.

Click here and here for more info.

Thought: WFAA is the weakest of ABC affiliates and O&Os in the nation's ten largest markets and this book proves it. (Dallas-Fort Worth is #5.)

Boston: Hearst's WCVB (ABC) wins at 11 p.m., with CBS-owned WBZ taking second. WHDH (thanks to Leno) finishes third in HH and 25-54's. Fox's WFXT wins at 10 among 25-54s.

Pittsburgh: No sweeping changes, with CBS-owned KDKA finishing first in the Steel City in all news time slots (except at 5 and 6 a.m.) in HH and 25-54's. Hearst's WTAE (ABC) generally finished second in households and demos.

But the station that really took it on the chin was Cox's NBC affiliate, WPXI. Not only the station was off a full rating point in the 25-54 demo at 11 p.m. (thank you Leno), but in the same demo, its 6 p.m. newscast was tied with reruns of Two And A Half Men on Fox affiliate WPGH for third place, while My Name Is Earl reruns on the same channel beat NBC Nightly News at 6:30 p.m. Wait a minute... you mean Everybody Loves to Friend Around With Earl is beating Brian Williams? What is going on?

Orlando: Similar results to Chicago: Cox's ABC affiliate (WFTV) dominates news among 25-54 ahead of WESH (NBC) and WKMG (CBS) - but its WKMG gaining viewers at 11 p.m., finishing second.WESH. In a major upset, indie WRDQ-TV's newscasts (WFTV's sister station) beat Fox-owned WOFL in 25-54s at 10 p.m.weeknights.

The following metered markets' ratings are measured by household only.

Milwaukee: Leno claims another victim: Journal Communications' WTMJ slipped into second-place at 10 p.m., behind Hearst's WISN-TV (ABC), which finished first. CBS affiliate WDJT-TV (owned by Chicago-based Weigel Broadcasting) came in third at 10, up from last year, with Fox affiliate WITI bringing up the rear.

Providence: In a stunning upset, CBS affiliate WPRI beat NBC affiliate WJAR in 11 p.m. news in households for the first time in 16 years. WJAR is usually the most dominant station in the Providence-New Bedford market, and has been for the last 50 years. And once again, you can thank Jay Leno for WJAR's loss.

WPRI was up 20 percent at 11, WJAR plunged 35 percent in the same time period. WJAR still won most other locally programmed time periods, including news.

Longtime laggard WLNE-TV (ABC) finished third at 11 p.m. and most other locally programmed time periods, but ratings at 11 were up 27 percent from last year.

Buffalo: And here, Leno's effect was felt  here too: NBC affiliate WGRZ-TV slipped to third place in households at 11 p.m., with ABC affiliate WKBW-TV taking second at 11 for the first time in eight years (WGRZ did win at 6 a.m. with its morning newscast.)

CBS affiliate WIVB-TV swept the market's news races (except at 6 a.m.), placing first.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Jonathan Brandmeier out at WLUP

For the second time in as many years, Jonathan Brandmeier is no longer calling The Loop home.

The eclectic morning radio personality and his show was canceled by Emmis-owned WLUP-FM on Monday after four years, with Friday being the last show (Pete McMurray filled in today.) Brandmeier recently signed a one-year contract extension with the Classic Rock outlet, with Emmis management betting economic conditions would improve - but they did not. Now, Brandmeier is out with three months left on its contract.

Also out are most of Brandmeier's staff.

This was Brandmeier's second tour of duty with the station; he was morning personality at WLUP from 1982 to 1994, then moved to a less successful stint in afternoons, where his show was voice-tracked from Los Angeles. In 1997, he jumped to Infinity's WCKG-FM (now CBS-owned WCFS-FM), where he did shows for that station and sister KLSX-FM in L.A. until 2001.

After a four-year absence, Brandmeier returned to Chicago and the morning shift at WLUP in 2005, but was unable to generate the same kind of success he enjoyed in the 1980's and early 1990's. In recent years, his morning show often ranked in the bottom half in the male 25-54 demo.

Some fans have criticized Brandmeier lately for "mailing it in": i.e. starting his show late, taking numerous vacation days, and replaying bits that aired earlier in the broadcast.  There has also been reports of tension between Brandmeier and Emmis management - especially if management is running WLUP from St. Louis, where Emmis owns several stations.

As for the future of Brandmeier, there have been reports he has received overtures from Tribune's WGN-AM and Citadel's WLS-AM, so he is likely to remain in town.

He may also focus on some television projects - though his 2008 pilot titled Almost Live for NBC-owned WMAQ-TV was basically a one-and-done. Brandmeier of course, is best known (rather infamously) for Johnny B. On The Loose, a syndicated late-night strip from Viacom which lasted all of five weeks in the summer of 1991 (and a member of the T Dog Media Blog TV Hall of Shame.)

As for the new morning personality, Brandmeier is being replaced by "Byrd", aka John Kempf effective on Tuesday. WLUP GM Marv Nyren said the station plans to have a music-oriented show in morning drive instead of a personality-focused one, which Brandmeier was doing. Kempf was WLUP's morning host in 2004 and 2005 before Brandmeier returned to the station.

Thought: While yours truly never really listened to Brandmeier's show on The Loop (but unfortunately has seen his 1991 TV show - more than once), the man is a local morning institution - back in the '80's he drew hoards of young adults to WLUP and to FM radio in general. But his return in 2005 saw a dramatically different radio landscape - in addition to competition from other radio stations, he also had to face competition from satellite radio, mp3 players, and other alternative options.

Reading comment boards on this story on other sites, I noticed another problem - many posters said Brandmeier was doing the exact same show today as he did in the 1980's -those who grew up listening to him felt this revival was old hat. At the same time, Brandmeier failed to attract the younger audience he was able to do a generation ago.

As for The Loop - which has played rock for 33 years (except in 1994-95 when they mostly went all talk) - they are focusing more on the music. But what kind of mileage are they getting from playing Van Halen, Aerosmith, and Styx all the time? This is the problem with commercial radio - playing all too familiar songs listeners have heard over and over again. Once again, the management at Emmis - which is running its Chicago cluster from St. Louis (shouldn't it be the other way around?), doesn't have a clue what its audience - which is dissipating faster with every release of a PPM report - wants.

Given recent developments, I thought broadcast, over-the-air television had radio beat in the "medium that's dying the fastest award." Leave it to Marv Nyren and Emmis to prove yours truly wrong - at least for this week.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

2009 T Dog Media Blog Turkey Awards: The year of the disappointment

If 2009 were to sum up anything in the media world, it's this word:


Yes, it has been a disappointing year around here. And what better way to sum all of it up than to give out T Dog Media Blog Turkey Awards for the fourth consecutive year. So grab your favorite beverage, relax, and hope 2010 is a whole lot better than this!

And the winners (losers) are:

NBC. Congratulations for making this list for the third consecutive year - thanks to the inept team of Jeff "Doogie" Zucker and Ben "Party All The Time" Silverman, who departed the network months ago. And now, the network is about to become Comcast's bitch. It doesn't get any worst than this.

Fox Chicago News. Nice way of taking advantage of your Fox network lead-ins and squandering it. And what about reporter Tera Williams asking a insensitive question to Mayor Daley during his press conference which caused him to walk out (asking the questions, indeed.) It's Uncle Rupert's Amateur Hour over there at WFLD.

Mayor Daley. And speaking of which, there hasn't been a worst mayor in the City of Chicago - besides Bilandic, that is.

The Jay Leno Show. Wow, who would have thought stripping this at 9 p.m. every weeknight was a good idea? (um...)

The Chicago Bears and Jay Cutler. Would you believe the Bears and this quarterback's play this season would be this bad? With a 4-6 record (as of Nov. 25), forget the playoffs. This Bears season and Cutler were the biggest bombs of 2009, even bigger than Leno.

Jon & Kate. Just hearing their names makes me want to stick my head in a brown paper bag.

Chicago Baseball. And speaking of brown paper bags, this was the fashion of choice to wear over your head if you were attending a Cubs or White Sox game this year.

Secret Girlfriend. A recent T Dog Media Blog Hall of Shame inductee, this inane sitcom's main character is you, the viewer, where you follow two unemployed paint thinner-sniffing idiots around all day and have whining female acquaintances bugging you all the time. If I were you, I'd find better friends than these. This is the worst sitcom of all time - even worse than My Mother, The Car and Chicken Soup and that says a lot.

I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here. Another turkey returned to the air courtesy of the current turkeys in the Nielsens, NBC.

Heroes. The third straight Turkey Award because of its mere existence and continued suckage.

FlashForward. What started out as a promising sci-fi series - finding out how everyone in the world "blacked out" for two-and-a-half minutes - has involved into a mess of bad acting, characters who get duller by the week, and very hard-to-follow and slow-as-molasses plots - not to mention the series has lost one-third of its audience since its debut. Wow, it was like if I was talking about the show above this one.

Osbournes Reloaded. This Fox "special" was so bad, it was dropped or delayed by 16 affiliates and trimmed to 35 minutes. There are five remaining episodes left. Really? Another recent T Dog Media Blog Hall of Shame inductee.

Chicago's Olympic Bid. The city spent tons and tons of money on a worthless endeavor which saw Chicago get eliminated in the first round of competition and made our metropolitan area a worldwide laughingstock.

The Beautiful Life. The CW drama lasted only two episodes. Wow, I'm surprised it lasted this long!

The Parents Television Council.  I'm giving them an award because I just flat out hate them. Third straight year on this list.

T Dog. Yes... your friend, T Dog, even made this list.... for thinking The Jay Leno Show in prime-time five nights a week would actually work!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Mya did NOT win "Dancing With The Stars"

, Donny Osmond did. But it won't stop yours truly from posting this sexy photo from a Vibe Vixen cover she did in 2007. Giggity.

Though Donny Osmond won, Mya was clearly the best dancer (and clearly better looking.) I know Quagmire would approve!

Monday, November 23, 2009

T Dog's Think Tank: A tribute to Oprah Winfrey

After 25 years on the air, The Oprah Winfrey Show - one of television's most successful daytime programs - rides into the sunset. Her final show airs on September 9, 2011 as the world gathers around their sets to say so long to one of TV's most successful shows. So in honor, The T Dog Media Blog honors and salutes Oprah Winfrey for her achievements in television and contributing a lot to the City of Chicago.

So, yours truly posted my loving tribute to the Queen of Talk on Marc Berman's PI Feedback Forum, ran by Mediaweek Magazine. Here is most of what I said (to read the tribute, click here and scroll down to the fourth post on the page):

"I remember back in 2005 when the founder of Chicago-based Johnson Publishing (John H. Johnson)- the publisher of African-American-targeted magazines Ebony and Jet, died and Oprah did not attend his funeral - which I thought was very disrespectful. The two magazines covered her a lot and this is the way she pays them back?

Not only that, IMHO, I feel Oprah has not done enough to help African-Americans like myself and other minorities to break into the television and media businesses. She has contributed very little to Chicago's African-American community - to my knowledge, she has not done any interviews with the city's four black radio stations, at least in the last decade or so. Every time I happen to stumble on to her show on TV, I hardly see a minority face in the studio audience. So it wasn't surprising when her announcement was greeted with mostly yawns in the African-American community.

In addition, she hasn't done much to contribute to the local television and radio community either. You think you had a hard time trying to get an interview with Oprah? So has Robert Feder, Maureen Ryan, Phil Rosenthal, Steve Johnson, the late Allan Johnson, and other local TV critics and reporters during her tenure here. One thing that irritated me was when she threw her big party on Michigan Ave. last September, she only did interviews with the syndicated tabloid shows, NOT the local media who have been covering her over the years. She talks all this bullshit about how much she loves Chicago and never really shows it.

I respect and appreciate all Oprah has done for the city I live in, but I wish she did a whole lot more - like acknowledge South Siders like me even existed. She's done nothing for us."

Well.... what did you expect? (After all, THIS IS The T Dog Media Blog.)

While yours truly has appreciated what Oprah Winfrey has done for Chicago's image - and is especially proud of her becoming the first African-American female to successfully helm a talk show and an empire amassing millions,  I wished she spent more time in Chicago's African-American community - not to mention helping more minorities break into the media business. It's disappointing to say the least. When was the last time she appeared in the Bud Billiken parade? Or appeared on any black radio station in Chicago?

And on top of that, she has contributed little to the local media community here - whom she has fed off the backs of for years (and no, throwing a few crumbs at the Museum of Broadcast Communications doesn't count.)  So it didn't surprise me in the least when she did not attend Johnson Publishing Company founder John H. Johnson's funeral, which was attended by dignitaries such as Tom Joyner, Roland Martin, Dick Gregory, Diahann Carroll, former President Bill Clinton and Mayor Richard Daley. Ms. Winfrey said she was vacationing in Hawaii, but word of his death never reached her. If she was more connected with the local media community here, she would have known sooner.

And don't let Big Media fool you to thinking Ms. Winfrey has universal support in the African-American community - she doesn't. I know many people who have told me personally that they don't like her.

So when you hear and watch these tributes to Oprah Winfrey over the next year or so, think about what I said. Oprah is leaving, but to us in Chicago's African-American community - and the local media community - it was like she was never here.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

T Dog's Four Pack -The Oprah Winfrey Edition

Welcome to a special edition of T Dog's Four Pack (special because this is a bit serious in tone.) On Thursday, Oprah Winfrey announced she was leaving her syndicated daytime talk show after 25 years and ending the program on September 9, 2011. She is focusing on launching her new cable network with Discovery Communications, which goes live in January 2011.

Her move will drastically alter the television landscape in a generation. So, let's break down the winners and losers:


-Oprah Winfrey herself. Of course. The queen of talk leaves on top of the daytime talk heap, going out on her own terms.

- Discovery Communications and Cable TV in general. With Oprah Winfrey on board, Discovery Communications' profile has risen significantly - and so has basic cable's. Landing one of the biggest names in television isn't bad for a form of television whose original claim of fame was Farieie Tale Theater and The New Leave It To Beaver - the shows airing at the time Oprah premiered.

- NATPE. With Oprah out of the picture, NATPE will be in for an attendance boost as stations and syndicators will be looking for the next talk show sensation  This means a brighter outlook for the beleaguered television convention, which has slumped in recent years. In addition, Oprah has a second late-night run  in many markets - including Chicago, which would mean even better news for syndicators looking to launch late-night projects in 2011.

However, some stations (notably the ABC O&Os) may expand local news instead in those early fringe time slots now occupied by Oprah - rather than depend on expensive syndicated fare.

- Jimmy Kimmel. As far as Chicago is concerned. Oprah's depature from syndication means that Kimmel's late-night show - which has been delayed an hour by WLS-TV (a rarity for an O&O to do) until midnight or later because of a second airing of Oprah's show - will now air at the network-mandated time of 11:05 p.m - assuming Kimmel's show lasts beyond 2011.

A free, extra item: Existing syndicated fare. You get an extra item in the winners' pack: If stations decide not to fill the vacant hour with news or other local programming, they can upgrade existing syndicated programming into the time slot with fare including Ellen, The Doctors, Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz, and several courtroom shows. The move would be great news to Warner Bros. and even CBS Television Distribution, who is losing Oprah.


- CBS Television Distribution. On the other hand, with stations no longer willing to pay top licensing fees for her show, CBS loses some revenue - and a little oomph in the syndication business. Not only that, contracts will be up soon for the company's two other longtime successes - Wheel of Fortune and Jeporady! in 2012. Will stations walk away from those two older-skewing shows as well? We'll see.

- ABC O&Os and other stations who carry Oprah. Maybe. Without Oprah's strong lead-in, there might be some ratings realignment in several markets - particularly in larger markets where ABC owns stations with the rights to Oprah.

On the other hand, some stations have been successful without Oprah, and since the ABC O&Os are strong - even the loss of her might not affect them too much. This fear was prevalent at Denver's KUSA-TV in 1989 when the then-ABC affiliate lost The Oprah Winfrey Show to then-CBS affiliate (now ABC affiliate) KMGH-TV, which was a distant third in the ratings.

The results? Gannett-owned KUSA (which became an NBC affiliate in 1995 due to a three-way network station swap) saw in news ratings remain constant and is stilll a powerful number one, though the ratings race has tightened. Oprah flopped on KMGH (it was even beaten in the ratings by KUSA's 4 p.m. news at one point) and later moved to KCNC-TV, Denver's CBS O&O.

In Raleigh-Durham, CBS affiliate WRAL-TV - a news and sign-on/sign-off powerhouse - regularly beats Oprah on ABC O&O WTVD at 4 p.m. with a same-day delayed airing of The Young and The Restless.

- The City of Chicago. With The Oprah Winfrey Show ending its run, the city and the businesses who operate in the West Loop near her Harpo Studios stand to lose revenue, especially from tourists who come in from out of town to see her show - not to mention some prestige on the world stage. The city's TV and film industry would also take another major hit. Earlier this year, The Jerry Springer Show and The Steve Wilkos Show exited Chicago to move to Stamford, Conn. to take advantage of tax breaks. Oprah's exit means for the first time since the early 1970's - when Phil Donahue moved his nationally syndicated show from Dayton, Ohio to Chicago - there will be no major syndicated talk shows taped here - leaving us with only courtroom shows Judge Greg Mathis and Judge Jeanne Pirro - which are taped at the same studio at the NBC Tower.

- Broadcast television in general. With Ms. Winfrey leaving free, over-the-air TV for the riches of cable, the prestige of broadcast television also takes a hit. With politicians talking about taking away the broadcast spectrum broadcast television uses for wireless broadband, more and more viewers turning to online streaming and video on-demand, local stations' revenue plummeting, CTV in Canada talking about closing local stations if it doesn't get retransmission content fees from cable operators, and Comcast's impending takeover of NBC, over-the-air television broadcasting may just be even more endangered than radio is. Losing Oprah doesn't help matters much.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Good news for rival syndicators, bad news for ABC O&Os - and the City of Chicago.

Click here for more info.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

T Dog's Four Pack - Put 'em up

It's a mid-week edition of T Dog's Four Pack - the winners and losers of the past week: And to describe the contestants, they are split into two groups: Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto.  If you follow boxing, you already know which one is the winner.(if you don't, click the link.)

Floating like Pacquiao

- WBBM-TV brings back Bill Kurtis and Walter Jacobson. For one night only on November 13, the CBS-owned station brought back the former duo to 10 p.m. newscast to fill-in for Rob Johnson, who had the night off. The results? A solid second in household and in adults 25-54, behind only WLS-TV and way ahead of WMAQ-TV. Overall, a solid newscast from The Church of Tisch - the one they used to do and what WBBM should be known for, instead of the tabloid crap they put out in the 1990's.

- Lopez Tonight. In its first week, the new TBS late-night talker drew 1.6 million viewers (with 3 million viewers on its first night thrn TBS, TNT, and TruTV) and drew more viewers than Letterman's tired show. Plus, Lopez had the youngest median age of any late-night talker - at 33. As for the show itself, a great production - though George Lopez needs to freshen up his monologue with more topical material.

- Chicago Blackhawks. What's this? A Chicago sports team actually winning some games? They won seven in a row at home.

- Gray Television rips into Leno experiment. The Chief Operating Officer of the station group said The Jay Leno Show in prime-time is not working and is harming his NBC affiliates' late news (WNDU-TV in South Bend and WMTV in Madison, Wis. are some of the NBC stations Gray owns.) Finally, a station group who's telling it like it is and not sugarcoating it - unlike others, who have their lips planted on NBC's ass.

Stung like Miguel Cotto

Aw, this is too easy. You know the losers' lineup for the week: The Bears, Jay Leno, FlashForward, Heroes, etc. Those guys are in the loser's column every other week. So instead of repeating ourselves week after nauseating week, here are four OTHER set of losers:

- Rupert Murdoch. He wants to take all News Corp. material off Google's search engines and wants YOU to pay for the company's content. Hey Rupert - using the Bill Wirtz model hasn't exactly worked - ask the Blackhawks. One upside: maybe he'll blackout Fox Chicago newscasts on home TV.

- WRC-TV's new Daily Connection. Speaking of dumb corporate media decisions, NBC's O&O in Washington, D.C. is using re-purposed material from NBC Universal's properties edited from the company's headquarters in New York -  to fill out a 3 p.m. "local" show, according to the New York Observer. Call it "video voicetracking". I didn't know Clear Channel beat Comcast in the race to acquire NBC.

- Bloody Wednesday. Exactly a week ago, Hank, Eastwick, and Dollhouse were all canned in one day. (not decrying the cancellations, just saying they were losers to begin with.)

- Chicago Now on WGN-AM. Robert Feder blasted the Tribsters on his new blog at Vocalo last week, slamming them for airing what amounts to a four-hour infomercial featuring the dopey blogging venture on WGN Saturday mornings, and described it as a waste of time. If you've seen the content on Chicago Now and listened to WGN on weekends... well, it makes sense to me!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

T Dog's Grab Bag: The syndication edition

It's a syndication edition of T Dog's Grab Bag. Reach in!

Is this a sign Oprah's relationship with CBS Television Distribution is over? Ms. Winfrey's production company is developing a new talk show with designing expert Nate Berkus -  and Sony Pictures Television, the company that's syndicating Dr. Oz. with Harpo Productions. Berkus has been on The Oprah Winfrey Show for the last eight years.The strip is expected to launch in fall 2010.

The move to Sony - which until this year, did not have a successful talk show in first-run since the heyday of Ricki Lake (when it was Columbia TriStar Television) - has boosted the independent studio's profile.

Earlier this month, speculation grew on whether or not Ms. Winfrey will continue her talk show with CBS, change syndicators to Sony, or moving the program to her new cable network, which launches next year. Her contract with CBS expires in 2011.

-Debmar-Mercury has renewed The Wendy Williams Show through 2012, on Fox-owned stations in New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Dallas, and Chicago, despite WFLD moving the show from 3 p.m. to 11 a.m. recently.

The self-proclaimed "Queen of All Media" was recently inducted in the Radio Hall of Fame. Ms. Williams' radio gigs included WQHT-FM (Hot 97) and WBLS-FM, both in New York.

- Debmar also cleared TBS sitcom Meet The Browns from Tyler Perry in 70 percent of the country, including Chicago's... you guessed it: WCIU-TV, which already airs Tyler Perry's other sitcom, House of Payne.

Look, be grateful it's Meet the Browns and not Comedy Central's Secret Girlfriend, which hands down, is  the worst sitcom in the history of television.

- In what has to be a first (and goes to show you what power a single station group can have on the industry), Judge Karen - a failed first-run courtroom strip from last season - is coming back next season after all - and you can thank - or blame - Sinclair Broadcasting Group.

After Sony canceled the series and Judge David Young last year to focus more on launching newer fare like Dr. Oz., Sinclair convinced the show's agents, which convinced Litton Entertainment to revive the series for first run sydnciation for fall 2010, under the new title Judge Karen's Court. Sinclair is already on board of course, and other station groups are likely to join them.

Locally, Judge Karen aired at 2 p.m. weekdays last fall on WCIU, but moved to 10 a.m. after Sony pulled the plug. The courtroom show also aired on cable network BET.

Sinclair said Judge Karen did well for its 60+ plus station group, even though the show wasn't doing well anywhere else. Sinclair - which owns stations in downstate Springfield and Champaign and two stations in Milwaukee - has often labeled as the poster child of what's wrong in the television business. The station group has been criticized for owning large number of stations and once used its clout to block an episode of Nightline in seven markets in 2003 when it featured a tribute to those killed in the Iraq War. The group in the past has also been criticized for cutting corners on its local newscasts to save money, using a centralized news operations titled NewsCentral to distribute prepackaged news segments.

While the return of Judge Karen Mills-Francis to television is indeed good news to her fans (I know what you're saying... what fans?), you have to wonder about just how much clout - and influence - large station groups like Sinclair have on whether or not a show lives or dies - no matter what the rating is.

Anna Davlantes moves to WFLD

In a coup for Fox-owned WFLD-TV, the station landed one of Chicago's most popular news personalities.

Anna Davlantes, who spent nearly a decade at NBC-owned WMAQ until leaving the station earlier this year, has now signed a multi-year deal with WFLD, where she will be handling contributing anchor and reporting duties.

The move is a plus for the struggling station, which has lagged behind practically every other news outlet in the market - even behind a surging WBBM-TV.

She will debut this Monday.

Monday, November 09, 2009

T Dog's Four Pack

Breaking down the haves - and have-nots - from the past week:


- V. The new version of the 1983 mini-series and 1984-85 television series drew 14 million viewers and a 4.9 rating in the 18-49 demo for ABC last Tuesday night. Will it hold up? We shall see.

- Fox. Game 6 of the Yankees' World Series clincher drew 21 million viewers. Now if they can only keep them through the rest of the season when Idol's not around.

- Dr. Phil, Jerry Springer, and trash TV talk show fans everywhere. No word on if Oprah plans to move her show to her cable network, but no such drama for fans of trash TV:  NBC Universal (Jerry Springer, Maury, Steve Wilkos) and CBS Television Distribution (Dr. Phil) locked up their controversial talkers through 2012 and 2014, respectively.

-  The Museum of Broadcast Communications ...and radio & TV fans everywhere! MBC founder Bruce DuMont announced at the Radio Hall of Fame dinner Saturday Night that he secured $6 million in funding to complete construction of the new building located at State and Kinzie located in the North Loop. The project was suspended when money allocated for the project was lost in the Blagojevich scandals. Yours truly will be first in line when it opens! (It shouldn't be too hard - I work right across the street.)


- The Chicago Bears. The loss yesterday to Arizona pretty much says it all.

- FlashForward. Speaking of disappointments, there is a lot of negative reaction on internet message boards regarding this show (lack of character development, slow advancement of the plot, etc.) And this as ratings continue to fall. It seems fans are discovering flaws in the show and its not meeting expectations (see above.) To paraphrase Dennis Green, FlashForward isn't who we thought they were (see above.)

Next week, look for the show to add Lovie Smith to the cast as a FBI agent who somehow bungles the FlashForward investigation. His conclusion to why the world blacked out for nearly three minutes? It was Tommie Harris' fault.

The Parents Television Council protests Gossip Girl episode Threesome. And no one cares about neither.

- Talk of Christmas Music - while it's 70 degrees outside. Yours truly wore short-sleeve shirts this weekend - who's thinking about Christmas? When the temperature drops by half, we'll talk.

Friday, November 06, 2009

"Dr. Phil" renewed through 2014

Renewed in 70 percent of the country, including CBS-owned WBBM-TV

If Oprah Winfrey decides to hang up her the mic in syndication after 2011, CBS Television Distribution is going to have an insurance policy.

Dr. Phil, the talk show which spun-off from The Oprah Winfrey Show in 2002, has been renewed through 2014 in 70 percent of the country, including the core CBS owned-and-operated station group that carries the show.

WBBM, which snatched Dr. Phil away from rival NBC-owned WMAQ-TV in 2005, is a part of the deal, which also includes the Belo, Gannett, LIN, and Media General station groups. Phil currently airs at 3 p.m. weekdays.

Dr. Phil's renewal came just hours after Tribune renewed NBC Universal's Jerry Springer, Maury, and The Steve Wilkos Show on the majority of its stations through 2012, in addition to five Warner Bros. first-run series, including Judge Mathis and The People's Court. It also came on the same day speculation heated up on whether or not Oprah Winfrey's talk show will leave syndication for her new cable network, slated to open in 2011.

As part of the new deal, the license fee structure for Dr. Phil is changing to make it more affordable for stations to keep the talk show on the air. It also affects the current deal stations have with CBS - it has been restructured so stations would actually be paying lower license fees for the show and when the new deal kicks in, those fees go even lower. This is good news for stations, who are cash-strapped and are not seeing as much ad revenue coming in than they have seen in years past due to the recession. In addition, ratings for Dr. Phil declined significantly over the past half-decade and last year in particular.

These issues were sticking points in whether or not CBS could bring back Dr. Phil - not to mention content problems, in which KPRC-TV in Houston cited as one of the reasons the station dropped the show.

But the show's content hasn't affected ad sales, which continue to attract blue-chip clients. By comparison, NBC Universal's just-renewed trio of talk shows has more questionable content issues and weaker advertiser sales, with national spots clogged with direct-response advertising (but all three remain profitable, due to budget cuts made by NBC U - i.e. moving production to Connecticut.)

But at the same time, the new deal with Dr. Phil came when a report surfaced that Oprah Winfrey was leaving her syndicated talk show in 2011 to focus more on her new cable network partnership with Discovery Communications.  A spokesperson for Harpo Productions denied the report, saying no decision has been made on whether or not Ms. Winfrey will continue her talk show in syndication with CBS. But given the source - a very respected Hollywood Insider - Harpo's denial is likely nothing more than spin control.

While Dr. Phil and NBC Universal's trio of trash talkers are sticking around, Broadcasting & Cable's Paige Albiniak pointed out that since 2004 (the year Ricki Lake ended her talk show), ratings for daytime talk have declined 45 percent in households - and even more alarming, down 50 percent in adults 18 to 49. Since Ms. Lake's departure, daytime talk has skewed older - and not helping matters much is the departure of Tyra Banks' talk show from syndication earlier this year to run on The CW. Thanks to the presence of Ricki Lake, daytime talk was aflush with young viewers in the 1990's, with her success spawning clone after clone after endless clone.

Currently, Dr. Phil McGraw's son (Jay McGraw) has his own deal with CBS Television Distribution with sophomore daytime strip The Doctors, and a proposed new strip from his production company (Stage 29 Productions) titled The Lawyers. 

Stage 29 Productions is named, of course, after Stage 29 - the soundstage where Dr. Phil shoots his talk show and where Arsenio Hall did his late-night talk show from 1989 to 1994. Since the CBS-Viacom split in 2006, Dr. Phil and The Doctors are the last two CBS-syndicated shows to be taped at Viacom-owned Paramount Studios, with CBS' Entertainment Tonight and The Insider moving to company-owned CBS Studio Center in Studio City, Calif. last year.