TV Networks and Vision

books, career, networks

Here’s an example of vision I read* last week:

In 1991, Bob Daly and Barry Meyer at Warner Bros. Studios realized their survival depended on forming their own network.

Across town, at Paramount Studios, executives felt the same way. For executive Kerry McCluggage, creating a network was a major point in his strategic plan.

The FCC’s Financial Interest and Syndication rules (laws that limited the Big Three networks (ABC, NBC, CBS) by putting strict limits on the amount of programming and syndication they could own) was coming to an end. If Warner Bros. and Paramount didn’t have their own networks to sell to, they could get locked out television by their competitors.

The negotiations to end fin-syn started in earnest in the late 80s. Daly was one of the key negotiators trying to uphold fin-syn, to buy his studio time:

“I negotiated for forever and a day. It was the first time I negotiated where it was important that I drag it on for as long as I could… I knew what you could do as a network when there was no government to tell you what to do.”

On February 8, 1996, Bill Clinton signed into law the Telecommunications Reform Act of 1996, repealing fin-syn.

A year earlier, on January 11, 1995, both Warner Bros. and Paramount launched their networks (the WB and UPN, respectively).

UPN struggled.

The WB hit their stride, which led to a wave of shows that shaped a generation:

Dawson’s Creek

Felicity

Buffy

How many of us try to handle our careers with the same vision? When was the last time you asked, “where is this industry going?” Then bet accordingly?

Any bet is uncertain. It’s easy to be wrong, and to look foolish.

Much easier to float along with the market, and never take a position at all.

* SEASON FINALE by Susanne Daniels and Cynthia Littleton. HT to Bitter Script Reader for the suggestion.

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