PRESS TOUR: Kudos to CBS, shame on ABC and NBC

Saturday, 04 August 2018 05:20 PM Written by 

Read Friday's TV Q&A by clicking here.

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- Since the 1970s, the Television Critics Association has been meeting twice a year for the TV critics press tours, which is currently about two weeks of press conferences and opportunities to interview stars, writers and network executives about their new and returning programs.

For broadcast networks, their days at press tour have been routinely made up of press confrences devoted mostly to their new series and sometimes to their popular returning shows. Another feature of each network's day has always been an "executive session" where the head of the network offers his or her remarks on the state of the industry, what new shows they are excited about and then takes questions from members of the press.

Given that the networks broadcast their programs over affiliate stations on the public airwaves it is appropriate for them to meet the press and answer, for good and ill, questions about what they are putting out for public consumption.

This year, two networks have shamefully decided to skip executive sessions: ABC's Channing Dungey, who recently received high praise for canceling "Roseanne" following its star's racist tweet, and NBC's Robert Greenblatt, who actually has a good story to tell about NBC's recent ratings success, are sitting out TCA.

And yet CBS, which is under intense scrutiny for the behavior of CEO Leslie Moonves, will have an exec session. Kudos to CBS Entertainment president Kelly Kahl for stepping up to what's sure to be an uncomfortable questioning about CBS culture Sunday morning.

Read more after the jump. ...

But it is shameful that ABC is not making Ms. Dungey available either in a press conference or outside of one during the day. I've been told she'll be at an ABC party Tuesday night, but that's not the same thing (also, she'll be mobbed). At least she'll be around -- an NBC publicist tells me Greenblatt won't even attend TCA so there's no way to get a few questions to him (we'll see if offers of a phone interview pan out).

Sitting out TCA doesn't even make business sense for broadcasters: They're the ones losing market share. Shouldn't they do everything possible to get attention for the content they have to offer? Avoiding the press only compounds the problems they already have -- most noticeably declining ratings -- because it makes them appear shifty and scared. 

But at the heart of it, ABC and NBC are shirking the responsibility that comes with access to the nation's airwaves. In this era of increased transparency for all companies, especially those that operate in the public realm, having to account for your doings every six months (or at least annually) is the responsible, transparent choice. Instead, ABC and NBC are choosing to hide.

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