TV Q&A: 'Army Wives,' 'The Price is Right' and local TV new anchors

Friday, 01 November 2013 02:26 PM Written by 

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TV Q&A with Rob Owen

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This week's TV Q&A (after the "Read more" jump below) responds to questions about “Army Wives,” “The Price is Right” and local TV news anchors. As always, thanks for reading and keep the questions coming.

- Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV writer

Q: Will “Army Wives” return or has it been canceled?

- Faith, 76, Pittsburgh

Rob: It has been canceled and will not be back.


Q: My question is about British programming. There are so many British shows I would like to see, but very few make it to the US. Occasionally BBC America shows something of interest, and the odd show turns up on PBS. Sometimes you can track something down on YouTube. I watch “EastEnders” via Dish (I don't have Dish myself, but someone tapes it for me). I just don't understand why they make it so hard! It seems like much of US programming is shown over there. I do understand they (Brits) pay some sort of TV tax, and wonder if that has something to do with it. I'd be willing to pay for a premium British channel. I'd just really like to be able to turn on my TV and see some of their programming.
Also I wonder why it's not possible to view programming on their websites. It's so frustrating to see clips and shows on the BBC or ITV websites, and know if I try to watch them it will tell me they are unavailable.
Is it just too expensive to make it available in the US, or do they think there is no interest?
- Cathy, Maple Grove, Minn.

Rob: It’s probably a combination of issues, including expense and demand, but I think the biggest issue is probably one of perceived demand. If networks thought viewers would watch and if the price was right, they’d import more British shows.

And the reality is, Americans have access to more British programming now than ever. Not only is PBS importing shows for “Masterpiece,” it’s also importing British dramas outside of “Masterpiece” (“Last Tango in Halifax” and “Call the Midwife”). Acorn.TV bills itself as a home for online streaming of British shows. And just this week DirecTV announced its Audience Network will add British dramas “Black Mirror” and “Secret State” to its lineup beginning Nov. 12.


Q: The new season of “Price is Right” began a few weeks ago and it appears only one of the former "regular" models has returned. Have the models been downsized too?

- Nancy, 61, Baldwin

Rob: I wondered if perhaps this was a cost-saving move, too, but a publicist for the show said that’s not the case.

“After 42 seasons, new games (we had one debut this season), guest models and special episodes are just something we do to continue to keep the show fresh and innovative. Viewers will definitely see the regular models on upcoming episodes!”

She provided no time table on when that might be.

“Price” will celebrate former host Bob Barker’s 90th birthday with a week of pet adoptions Dec. 9-13 and an appearance by Barker on Dec. 12. 

Q: Why is Faith Hill not singing the opening song on “NFL Sunday Night Football” this year?
- Vicki, Becker, Minn.

Rob: In April Hill tweeted, “I’ve just let everyone [at SNF] know it’s time 2 let someone else rock the open. … Difficult decision. Kinda emotional. Love all u guys at SNF — I’ll b watching!!!”

In July, Carrie Underwood was announced as her replacement


Q: As I am forced to watch shows On Demand, since the networks air everything at the same time, and I am forced to watch commercials since the fast forward "functionality" is not available, I wondered if my On Demand viewing counts for the shows ratings. Seems to me if it's all about advertising, and I fast forward commercials on my DVR, but can't On Demand, then On Demand viewing should count even more! If Comcast hadn't taken away my option to start a show a minute late, or end a show a minute early, I could avoid some of this.  Case in point –Thursday night at9I have given up “Glee” (which used to be on Wed at 8) and the new shows, tape “White Collar” later (which used to be on Tues. at 10), and miss the beginning of “Rehab Addict” because “Grey's Anatomy” runs a minute long. Now “The Millers” runs from8:30 to 9:01, but luckily I can "clip" the first minute of Project Runway, when the "clip" feature actually works, which must have something to do with "favorites.” I don't have the brain power to figure all of this out. It's a losing game for the networks. They need to learn to play well together!!!

- Barb, 50, West Mifflin

Rob: Networks play well together? That’s not going to happen.

But there seems to be a false assumption in Barb’s question.

There haven’t been any changes. Customers who select the “My DVR” button on their remote can then select “Set A Recording” and then “Set A Manual Recording” and begin and end a recording down to increments of one minute,” said Comcast spokesman Bob Grove. “Also, among all the TV shows mentioned here, all but ‘Glee’ have their latest episodes available On Demand.”

And yes, shows watched On Demand are now included in C3 commercial ratings – live viewing plus DVR playback and on demand usage within three days of the original broadcast.

Q: My question is about the SAP function on televisions. This is a way for TV stations to broadcast multiple audio tracks at once and let the person watching select. I have both Comcast and antenna for local channels if that matters.
I often see secondary tracks labeled as Spanish in my guide but they are just a stereo version of the default 5.1 surround sound English track.
This year on Root Sports Penguin hockey broadcasts the Spanish track contains no audio. Last season it included all the ambient arena noise, but NOT the production sounds (such as play by play, commentary, etc). I loved it -  what a novel way to watch the game. You could hear the arena's PA system, the players talking on the ice, the hits along the boards, and more.  Was that a glitch or something Root could consider bringing back?

- Mike, 29, East Liberty
Sounds like a glitch.

“I talked with our engineers here in Pittsburgh and at our master control facility in Atlanta — they both confirm if Comcast was placing any NATS on the SAP channel last year it was by mistake,” said Root Sports Pittsburgh spokesman Shawn McClintock.


Q: I noticed that over the past several weeks, Courtney Brennan has been sitting next to Gordon Loesch on Channel 11's weekend evening newscasts.  Does that mean that these two people will be anchoring those newscasts together regularly?

-Joseph, 27, South Fayette Twp.

Rob: No, it’s just for football season. Courtney Brennan and full-time reporter Pamela Osborne, a new hire over the summer, are both working some Sunday night newscasts. “During the NFL season, we have a lot of viewers watching Sunday Night Football and the newscasts that follow,” said WPXI news director Mike Oliveira. “Our schedule and staffing allow us to double anchor those newscasts, and both Courtney and Pamela have done a great job taking advantage of those opportunities.”



Rob in your recent TV Q&A the subject of names used on TV came up. I thought you might like you know about my personal experiences in this. I have never heard of it before or since. It involved using my last name in a Gas-X Commercial. It was back in 2001. 

I received a phone call one afternoon out of the blue. It was from a commercial production company. She told me that for every name used on TV they need a signed release giving permission. It is not really on a project-by-project basis. She said there is large data base of names that they have signed clearances for. You just go there and pick out names that have been paid for long ago. But when new names are wanted someone in the US must give clearance for it. After that it enters the system and it can be used without ever needing permission from anyone again. She said they wanted a new different ethnic name. Something not heard before and might stick out. They Googled names and found my last name. They liked it. So they were just going down a phone registry looking for anyone in the US to answer the phone and give them the rights. If I said no they would just move on to the next phone number. It was a no-brainer. Just take the money for nothing. I was given $50 and the storyboards to the commercials. I had to be able to see them to understand the use of my name was not derogatory. If it was OK then sign the form and the check came. Almost a year later commercials for Gas-X were playing. They were the ones at the firehouse and it was Wikowki's turn to cook chili.

- Al, Pittsburgh

Why doesn't WPXI give [freelancer] Shelby Zarotney a permanent full-time anchoring position?  She does a great job when she fills in on the weekend morning shows. She does a much better job than Darieth's replacement on the weekday11 p.m.newscast and the weekday morning news anchor.  Wake up 'PXI.

- Dino, 61, Steubenville, Ohio

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