No. 2 Court Show May Lose Its Judge in Contract Beef

Feb 28, 2013  •  Post A Comment

The second-highest-rated syndicated court show may have to replace its star because of a hassle over the judge’s salary. B&C reports that talks between CBS Television Distribution and Joe Brown, the star of “Judge Joe Brown,” remain unresolved, even with the high-rated series renewed on stations through the 2014-15 season.

“In the face of declining ratings, license fees and advertising revenues, CTD has told Brown that his salary — which once was reported to be as high as $20 million annually — will be significantly cut,” the story reports. “Brown hasn’t re-upped to do the show under the new terms for next fall, and is shopping it to other distributors, according to sources.”

CTD has reportedly been talking to stations about placing a different judge in the chair after the show’s current season raps production next month. “Some syndicators noted that they’ve been getting calls from members of Brown’s crew, looking for new jobs,” the piece adds.

“Among the distributors that Brown is considering is Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios, with whom sources say Brown is in ‘advanced conversations to produce new episodes of the show for fall,’" B&C reports. “Entertainment Studios declined to comment. Brown could not be reached at press time via calls to ‘Judge Joe Brown’s’ production office at Sunset-Bronson Studios.

The report adds: “Whether station groups will be willing to keep the show on the air with another judge in Brown’s place hasn’t been decided yet, but some station executives who requested anonymity told B&C they were less than happy to be learning about this situation at the end of February when their options for replacing the show are limited.”

Brown may benefit from re-upping with CTD, even at a reduced salary, the piece notes.

“Several syndication stars have had to take salary cuts in recent years in the face of a fragmented daytime TV environment, and even ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show’ faced license-fee cuts by the time it went off the air in 2011,” B&C reports. “In many markets, ‘Judge Joe Brown’ is paired with CTD’s ‘Judge Judy,’ by far syndication’s number-one court show. ‘Judy’ still brings in massive ratings, recently surpassing an 8.0, and often ranks as daytime’s highest-rated show. When ‘Joe’ — or any court show — is paired with ‘Judy,’ it typically gets a ratings bump.”

Numbers for “Judge Joe Brown” have been slipping for a few years, part of a general trend among syndicated programs, the report notes.

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