TelevisionWeek’s Syndication Roundtable: Industry in Flux

Dec 4, 2007  •  Post A Comment

Executives from all segments of the television syndication industry converged Tuesday at TelevisionWeek’s annual syndication roundtable, agreeing that adaptation is key to prospering in the current business environment.
TelevisionWeek Publisher and Editorial Director Chuck Ross kicked off the event with an exclusive interview with Dr. Phil McGraw and his son, Jay McGraw, who are executive producers of “The Doctors,” a new syndicated offering.
The McGraws promised viewers a more flexible format than the approach currently used for “Dr. Phil,” and said the new program has been sold in markets covering about 87 percent of the country.
During the syndication roundtable panel, executives offered their takes on the prospects for “The Doctors.” Hilary Estey McLoughlin, president, Telepictures Productions, said the risk with the new program is that medical topics can attract an older audience. William Morris’ Worldwide Head of Nonscripted TV, John Ferriter, said that with the right framing, the medical genre can gain a following.
All the panelists addressed the changes buffeting the syndication industry and offered a similar assessment: Syndication, while here to stay, needs to adjust to digital entertainment opportunities and find ways to make new shows succeed in difficult timeslots on station schedules.
Rob Silverstein, executive producer for “Access Hollywood,” outlined the requirements for new shows to succeed.
“With the right show, with the right stations, with the right lead and the right lead out,” a new syndicated show can blossom, Mr. Silverman said.
Ms. Estey McLoughlin then quipped, “The problem is that none of that is possible.”
Mr. Silverstein noted that he’s using teasers in his program to push traffic to the show’s Web site, and vice versa. The Web site is also becoming a source of stories for the show, he said.
Mr. Ferriter also touted the value of the convention of the National Association of Television Production Executives as an incubator for business relationships.
Pat Patton, VP, station manager and program executive at KRON in San Francisco, said he was questioning whether he would attend the convention this year. Mr. Patton, a former NATPE president, expressed doubts as the value of conference as a dealmaking spot.
Mr. Ferriter, offering to pay Mr. Patton’s way, said the industry needs to look at the conference as a lead-generation tool not just for the immediate season, but for future cycles. He pointed to the successes Ben Silverman, now programming chief at NBC, had establishing contacts at NATPE in his prior job leading production and distribution house Reveille.
Dave Morgan, president and CEO at Litton Productions, said his company’s return on investment at NATPE is in the “100s of percents.”
(Corrected at 2 p.m. to fix Rob Silverstein spelling.)


  1. One of the key properties that was discussed and applauded was what TPX/WB has done with TMZ. It shows that the future will be finding properties that can live both on the web and on TV.
    When it comes to social networks, which seem to be stealing the thunder when it comes to the online world, the triple play will be when the property can also live off line as well in real life, via some type of Live Events concept. This would also allow for a new business model for the local station affiliates.
    The ability to then monetize both the on air advertising and online advertising will allow for the convergence of TV/WEB via a property that can live on both. This is something that neither MySpace, YouTube, nor now Facebook, has been able to achieve.
    Thank You,
    Ray Doustdar
    President & Co-Founder

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