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A Genre-Rational Gap

Jun 6, 2005  •  Post A Comment

What do “60 Minutes” and “Fox & Friends” have in common?

They’re both talk shows, according to the on-screen programming listings supplied by Tribune Media Services to Time Warner Cable New York, to which The Insider subscribes, always happily.

Faithful readers (if that’s not redundant) may remember The Insider’s recent inquiry into why ABC’s sexy medical drama “Grey’s Anatomy” was erroneously labeled a “health/fitness” show in the on-screen listings. That was corrected within weeks.

But then The Insider noticed that “60 Minutes,” the granddaddy of newsmagazines, was labeled “series/talk.” Still is. As are “48 Hours Mystery,” “primetime>live,” “20/20” and “Dateline NBC.”

The late-night comedy shows on ABC, CBS and NBC, CNN’s “Crossfire,” “Larry King Live” and a 2%BD;-hour afternoon program titled “Live From …,” and MSNBC’s “Connected: Coast to Coast” are categorized as talk shows. So is ABC’s “Nightline.”

“Studio B With Shepard Smith” at 3 p.m. weekdays is “news,” while “Fox Report With Shepard Smith,” four hours later on the same Fox News Channel lineup, is “talk.”

Tribune also has a “News/Magazine” category. It is applied to CNN’s “NewsNight With Aaron Brown.”

On the other hand, the network’s “Anderson Cooper 360” and “Paula Zahn Now” are labeled simply “news.”

The morning news shows on ABC, CBS and NBC are classified “talk,” while CNN’s “American Morning”-which follows a format much like the bigger network shows but without cooking segments or outdoor concerts (and with a designated grouch in the mix)-is classified “news.”

Go figure.

The Insider, who remains all OCDemons and no life, decided to go again in search of a rationale for whimsy. She came back with only some factoids and theoroids.

The designations are not supplied or applied by the news organization people who send listings material to Tribune.

Network listing handlers and TWCNYC said Tribune listing handlers attributed the quirky labeling to the way the software in digital recording boxes issued by TWC in some, but perhaps not all, markets interprets the genres. (The Insider’s call to Tribune last week was not returned.)

There also was a suggestion that the “series/talk” label is on some morning shows and the newsmagazines because that’s the way some newspapers break out those shows. Please cancel The Insider’s subscriptions to any NEWSpaper that doesn’t care about the difference between a NEWSmagazine or morning NEWS program and “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”

As everything does when The Insider gets through with it, this seems trivial, but there are people out there who have a life and who aren’t governed by OCDemons who take on-screen mislabeling seriously.

“It is an issue we need to address,” said one network executive. “I see this becoming more of an issue in time as people begin selecting their programs from genre menus.”

Meanwhile, The Insider has an appointment to get her theoroid tested.