Saturday, February 25, 2012

Why I am not a programmer for a cable TV channel

I'm pretty certain that today's showing of The House of Telegraph Hill, which I mentioned in yesterday's post, is a TCM premiere. Or, at least, I don't think it's shown up in several years, although before about 2004 I wasn't paying quite as close attention to the schedule as I do now. I don't think it's the only premiere in tonight's lineup; Harry and Tonto is coming up at 1:00 AM as part of a night of movies looking at migrating across the country.

Now, if I had any say I think I'd be trying to put the premieres in prime time; witness the premiere of Robinson Crusoe this past week. I suppose you can argue that Harry and Tonto is in prime time for those out on the Pacific coast, where it begins at 10:00 PM. But I'd think Saturday afternoons (or afternoons in general) are a relatively unwatched time for anything but sports. And then, there are movies like The Firemen's Ball which had its TCM premiere at 9:15 AM ET, which most definitely isn't prime time.

To be fair, there are times when you might not be able to help putting premiers on at odd times. A couple of years back TCM had a salute to the 100th birth anniversary of director Akira Kurosawa, and ran an entire 24-hour marathon of his films on the actual 100th birthday. Obviously, a few of those would have been premieres, and would have aired at odd times. Plus, as I've argued quite a bit, TCM has to balance when to show premieres with showing movies that are more likely to bring in new viewers: if we don't have new people becoming fans of classic cinema, what's going to happen when the older ones begin to die off?

I guess this is why I'll never be getting a job programming at TCM, and certainly not at any other cable channel, where my tastes definitely don't fit with the demographics that TV executives are looking for.

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