Q: I see that the NFL will be starting select games 15 minutes later on Sundays this coming season. Isn’t the Sunday prime-time lineup messed up enough during the football on CBS already? Two of my favorite programs are “60 Minutes” and “The Good Wife.” Now what time will they be starting? CBS should just have football on all day and night on Sunday, that’s the way they are headed.
- Ed, Corapolis
Q: Now that the NFL admits that football games run longer than three hours and will not be starting doubleheader second games until 4:25 p.m., is there any chance that CBS will end their fantasy that the late game will be over by 7 p.m. and discontinue the absurdity of scheduling a full night of TV shows beginning at the 7 p.m. time?
- Jean, 62, Ross Township
Rob: In short, no. CBS will stick to its Sunday night schedule in the sense that the shows will air in their expected order but their start times will vary weekly.
CBS execs acknowledge how frustrating it is to viewers when their shows are delayed due to NFL games going long on Sunday nights. The network tries to update viewers on-air – both verbally and with graphics – about new start times for Sunday night shows. CBS also uses social media platforms and viewers can sign up for Eye-lerts, which I find useful.
The network also promises “some new measures” but wasn’t specific about what those will be. But you can be sure I’ll ask about them later this month during CBS’s day at the Television Critics Association summer press tour in Beverly Hills, Calif.
Q: My very young grandchildren were watching the Nick channel recently. I was very busy, but caught some of the subject matter on the program they were watching. The two characters (I have no idea what program was being aired), a young teen boy and girl, were in a dialog when the boy asked the girl "What's your most favorite part of my body?" They kiss and the next scene is both of them in a bed, bedspread up to their chests. Then a doorbell rings, and they go to panic mode. At that point, I turned the channel and told my grandkids, “No more Nick.”
Needless to say, I found this program most inappropriate for young teens. I attempted to telephone my local cable provider but was shuttled from voicemail to voicemail with no hope of ever talking to a human being.
Have you done articles on Nick? What is your opinion of their programming for youngsters? If I want to protest this type of inappropriate programming, how do you recommend I do it?
- Gail, Augusta, Ga.
Rob: Because Gail doesn’t know what program her grandkids were watching, it’s a little difficult for me to comment but given the content she describes, my guess is they were not watching Nick but they were watching TeenNick or possibly Nick at Nite, which added a prime-time soap, “Hollywood Heights,” last month.
When “Hollywood Heights” premiered, I did wonder how that show fit in with the rest of Nick’s programming, mostly sitcoms. As some cable networks cut up their programming into blocks and spin-off networks aimed at different demographics, adult guardians of children need to be ever more vigilant about what their kids are watching. It’s not easy to be media literate but it is a requirement of good parenting. Gail did the right thing in turning off the TV but she also needs to recognize that during other parts of the day Nick is airing programs that are appropriate for children and teens.
Q: I've recently become hooked on the USA original series called "Suits" and I'm wondering what you think of the show.
The second part of my question has to do with the censoring of words in the On Demand version of the show. I notice that when the characters say that something is "bull####" the second syllable is silent. However, they routinely refer to people using slang terms for various body parts - male, female, and otherwise. So, who decided that "bulls###" would offend our sensibilities, but it's OK to say a##hole" out loud? I would have thought it would be the other way around. And since these words are used in the show, I assume it was OK for USA to air them originally, but then they deleted them from On Demand. What's the point of that?
I know you probably can't print my letter word for word or people will want to censor your column, but I hope you'll be able to answer me.
- Toni, 54, Ross
Rob: According to USA, “VOD airs the premiere episode as it appears on linear with the full commercial ad load. We don’t make any revisions or edits to the asset on our end. We use the prime-time version of ‘Suits’ as it airs on USA. This allows for Nielsen to track the episode and apply a C3 rating, which is a measure of the commercials watched both live plus 3 days playback on VOD & DVR.”
So that begs the question, is Verizon On Demand, where Toni watches “Suits,” editing the content? Verizon says it is not.
“Verizon does not edit any of the programming provided to the company from content providers and is prohibited from doing such things contractually,” said Verizon spokesman Lee Gierczynski. “Verizon simply passes on to FiOS TV customers what is provided by the content providers. Any editing would occur only at the content-provider level.”
So that puts the ball back in USA’s court. But since it took a month to get the above response from USA, I didn’t want to hold up publication of this question further. My best guess is that USA is editing shows for VOD but it’s not clear to me why that would be. I’m afraid this mystery will not be solved today.
Q: I was a big fan of Stephanie Watson from KDKA, Channel 2. Do you have any idea if she is back on television and, if so, where? Any answers you can give me with regard to her would be appreciated. Keep up the good work!!!
- Margie, 53, Cecil, PA
Rob: I have not heard that Watson has landed another TV job.
Q: Last Thursday WTAE reported at noon that JoePa's grandson was sexually molested by Jerry Sandusky. Nobody else has reported that anywhere. I have called the station and tried to get them to respond to my emails to give me more information, but they won't. Can you please find out if this true and if it is not, why didn't WTAE apologize for running a story that was false?
I'm watching KDKA from now on!
-MaryAnn, 53, Greensburg
Rob: According to news director Alex Bongiorno, “This info was sent down by ABC news network. We later reported the fact that the information was deemed to be a hoax.”
TV stations often pass along news they receive from wire or satellite sources but given the nature of this report, I wondered if any attempt was made by WTAE staff to independently confirm the report. I asked Bongiorno via e-mail, “Was the correction made in the noon news or in a later broadcast and if so which one? Was any effort made to confirm the report before broadcasting it on WTAE?”Her response: “Was broadcasted in the noon news. Corrected in afternoon. Attribution was given to ABC News for source of information.”
Q: I can't believe that "Storm Tracker" had to interrupt the last half-minute of "Jeopardy" tonight. Now we have no idea WHAT the correct response was, nor WHO the winner was. To make matters worse, after trying to find the episode on the Jeopardy website, the guy who was most likely the winner is from Pittsburgh!
They couldn't have waited another 30-40 seconds to interrupt the program?
- Patrick, 54, Pittsburgh
Rob: TV stations are in a tough spot on severe weather and I don’t envy them. But I also understand the frustration of viewers. You can imagine a scenario where 30 or 40-seconds warning would make a significant difference in public safety but it also seems like such close calls are rare. Still, how do you manage that?
“Viewers tell us one of the most important reasons to watch a local TV newscast is to have a weathercast that they can depend on in times of severe weather,” explained WPXI news director Mike Goldrick via email. “They’ve also said they expect us to do is to break into programming when severe weather watches and/or warnings are issued. We have very specific guidelines for the weather staff on how to react in times of severe weather.
“Last Friday night, Stephen Cropper was tracking a severe weather system had already caused some damage in Ohio. As we know, thunderstorms have been known to produce winds and hail that can cause significant damage and/or injuries, even death. Once the National Weather Service issued a Severe Thunderstorm Warning for Allegheny County, [Cropper] saw it as his duty to get on the air right away.
“Unfortunately for fans of ‘Jeopardy!,’ that meant breaking into programming when the last contestant was answering the Final Jeopardy question. When Stephen was done, the show was over.
“When we realized we’d covered up the end of the show, we immediately shared the Final Jeopardy answer and the name of the winner with a number of viewers who contacted us by phone, email or on Facebook.
“The Channel 11 Storm Team is committed to keeping people safe during severe weather. This can mean interrupting a television program or sporting event. We understand viewers get frustrated about program interrupts. However, providing public safety information is the most important mission of our television station.”
Perhaps if this happens in the future, WPXI could post a story about what was missed at WPXI.com. It seems likely more people would find it there than on the station’s Facebook page.