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Padden: networks are unfriendly.

Last June, during a speech at the BPME conference, Preston J. Padden, senior vp for the Fox TV Network, launched a vituperative attack on the three major networks. They are "saddled with infrastructures that are relics from a bygone era." Their business practices, Padden charged, "are grossly unfriendly to virtually every constituency of our business. They are producer-unfriendly, advertiser-unfriendly and, worst of all, viewer-unfriendly."

As an example, he cited "the networks' continued myopic focus on a single defined and regimented development season," which "puts undue and unhealthy pressure on creative talent every step of the way. All three networks are looking for scripts at the same time, straining the limits of writing talent.

"All three go into pilot production at exactly the same time, again straining limits of the production community's resources."

"Inevitably, many great program ideas are simply unable to secure the talent necessary to have a fair chance for success. As a result of this arbitrary and inflexible development regime, many shows are rushed into the pilot stage or into actual production, before they are really ready."

Padden reminded his listeners that "a viewer today, unlike in the past, does have the option of other television program alternatives. It's hard to imagine a more effective strategy or driving your viewers into the hands of the waiting alternatives of cable networks, independent stations and, yes, emerging networks like Fox."

Finally, said Padden, there is "the September massacre," when after spending millions on producing their new "dramatic and comedic gems," they "take them all and hurl them against the wall simultaneously in late September -presenting you and themselves with an absolutely impossible promotional challenge. We bombard the poor viewers with a hopelessly confusing array of promotional messages. "The result of this idiotic process is a massive failure rate for new network television programs. If networks were parents and the new series were their children, they'd have all been thrown into jail for child abuse years ago," he stated bluntly.

Padden was puzzled why, "in the face of such a dramatically changed marketplace, the three networks insist on clinging to their old ways... Instead of devising new ways to invest in their future, the big three seem totally absorbed in cutbacks and retrenchment. In the end, it's pretty easy to understand why their viewer shares continue to plummet season after season."
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Title Annotation:Preston J. Padden, senior vice-president for Fox Television Network
Publication:Video Age International
Date:Oct 1, 1991
Previous Article:Wanted: U.S. network programmers with guts and taste.
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