Networks Grumbling About Another Obama Primetime Speech

Mar 18, 2009  •  Post A Comment

President Obama’s decision to hold another primetime news conference is playing havoc with the networks’ sweeps schedules—and causing some in the industry to grumble about the financial impact.
The president has slated a news conference for Tuesday at 8 p.m. EDT, his second since taking office two months ago. CBS, NBC, ABC and Fox all have confirmed they plan to carry it.
The networks won’t be happy about it, however.
Fox, which normally airs the performance episode of “American Idol” on Tuesdays, has just decided to shift that episode to Wednesday, March 25, from 8-10 p.m. The usual Wednesday results show will air on Thursday, March 26, at 8 p.m.
The move means Fox will have to preempt the planned March 25 episode of “Lie to Me,” as well as the March 26 episode of “Bones.” A repeat of “House” will follow the president’s news conference on Tuesday.
The changes mean “Idol” now will face off against CBS’ March 26 coverage of NCAA basketball. And “Survivor,” which airs a special Wednesday edition on March 25, will battle “Idol” that night.
As for the other networks, NBC plans to shift “The Biggest Loser” into the 9-11 p.m. timeslot, bumping “Law & Order: SVU” for a week. CBS, meanwhile, will shift “NCIS” and “The Mentalist” to 9 and 10 p.m., respectively, preempting “Without a Trace” for a week.
Of even more concern to network executives, however, is the financial impact to broadcasters.
“Every time the president disrupts primetime, the networks lose another couple million dollars,” one TV industry insider said. “In this economy, that’s the last thing we need.”
Networks lose money because presidential appearances are commercial-free, meaning any time the networks cover the president, they lose advertising availabilities that can never be replaced.
The same insider conceded the economic crisis makes these “unusual times,” and that networks understand the president’s desire to communicate to Americans. “If there’s news, they’ll cover it,” the executive said.
President Obama had talked to the networks about a primetime speech following the signing of the economic stimulus bill, but opted against it, in part, perhaps, because the networks indicated their displeasure in a Washington Post article published Feb. 6.
“His economic stimulus package apparently does not extend to the TV networks,” the Post quoted one network executive as complaining.
In addition to his first primetime press conference last month, the president delivered an address to both houses of Congress.
Slate.com is reporting that President Obama is mulling the idea of shorter, 10-minute “fireside chats” to keep Americans up to date on the economy.
(1:45 p.m.: Updated with Fox “Idol” plans)


  1. Leno, 60 Minutes, and a news conference — seems that the President wants to make sure that his message (and the party’s message) is received.
    I’ll be very interested to hear what he has to say about the bail-out flap. Hope both Jay and Steve Kroft ask questions about the AIG situation, and that we get some solid responses and clear perspective from the President.
    Fireside chats? Why not? I’m sure his detractors will find something to slam in that (they already accuse him of “imitation” of other past presidents – as though that’s really a bad thing). I like the idea of taking acountability and “facing the nation” when there are controversies.

  2. Perhaps Pres. Obama could pick some corporate brands out of a hat and randomly give some plugs for products and as he talks about getting the economy rolling. That way the nets carrying his speech might be able to split the Presidential endorsements seen as ads by millions and not lose money on the Obama primetime slots, yeah, right….

  3. obama, has just been spending… everything he has done so far is spending… in my childhood I have been told. when there is no money we safe…

  4. tsadok, dear heart … You *do* realize that your comment has absolutely nothing to do with the media, right? It’s the online equivalent of crayon scribblings, k?
    And on that front, it seems increzingly silly for the broadcast networks — which are no longer regarded as primary news sources — to carry Presidential addresses except in times of extreme crisis.

  5. And yet these same networks thought nothing of denying ANY time, much less sweeps time, to President Bush. I guess the rock-star persona of the pretender they pushed into office is still too great for the fawning MSM to ignore.

  6. why do the networks have to carry it – if i could choose between listening to a president spew his party’s propaganda or watching a television show to have a brief respite from the economic realities of the day I’d choose the show EVERY SINGLE TIME.
    Why can’t he go on the air at 7:00 – why is it always during primetime programming.

  7. The TV industry doesn’t need this. As if the cost of the DTV conversion and the recession weren’t enough, now they are looking at yet another night of prime-time revenues shot right between the eyes. But let’s face it … the networks pretty much have to carry it after the way they continue to gush over the ‘historic’ nature of Obama’s presidency. And the first net that decides to not carry his appearances runs the risk of being villified by his supporters.

  8. While the Broadcasting industry is based on good old capitalism which I love, one must remember that the broadcasting industry is based on a TRUST between the networks and the citizens of the US who have granted them the license to transmit on the publicly owned airwaves.
    I think only cynical people believe the president is just promoting HIS or the Democratic parties agenda, he is trying to keep us reasonably informed about the agenda we voted him into office for.
    If television cannot educate and inform as well as entertain, then as Edward R. Morrow stated so pointy “… then TV is just a box with wires and lights”.
    Nathan Simmons

  9. Ops! I mangled the quote for E.R. Morrow put the point is the same.

  10. The Edward R. Murrow quote is:
    “This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and it can even inspire, but it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise it is merely wires and lights in a box.” – RTNDA Convention Speech, October 15 1958
    I hardly see how that fits the circumstances here.

  11. I would love to see Fox put the IDOLS up against the rock star, if nothing else but to watch the trolls have seizures trying to decide whom to watch.

  12. Thanks Gerald for the Correction. But to answer how this applies to know a quote this from E.R. Murrow from the same speech (thi time it’s accurate):
    “Not so long ago the President of the United States delivered a television address to the nation. He was discoursing on the possibility or probability of war between this nation and the Soviet Union and Communist China–a reasonably compelling subject. Two networks CBS and NBC, delayed that broadcast for an hour and fifteen minutes. If this decision was dictated by anything other than financial reasons, the networks didn’t deign to explain those reasons. That hour-and-fifteen-minute delay, by the way, is about twice the time required for an ICBM to travel from the Soviet Union to major targets in the United States. It is difficult to believe that this decision was made by men who love, respect and understand news.”
    While the Threat may not be nuclear this time, could it not be said that a financial crisis and lack of faith in government could equally be as dangerous and threatening to the well being of the USA?

  13. Why don’t the networks just agree to rotate? Then everyone doesn’t have to get screwed every time the President decides to ramble on.

  14. Obama would do better to be on TV less and work more. I am starting to think he is more interested in being a ‘star’ than a president. And, I agree with the networks. It is starting to get on my last nerve having to watch the president preen and do his ‘look to the side’ trademark pose and repeat the same things he said over and over.

  15. The ‘pres’ needs stop his preening, partying and over exposing himself on the media. He needs to give up the ‘star’ approach and work more on the tasks at hand.

  16. the president is in love w/himself. he also clearly doesn’t know HOW to do his job, so he continues to campaign and give speeches, etc. thank god for the DVR, as well as cable in general. I can watch all sorts of things instead of him. does he really think that many people want to hear him again and again and again? if so, it’s the same group of fans. eventually the networks will turn away and say no thank you. that’s what CNN,MSNBC,and FOX news are for.

  17. I agree that these Primetime News Conferences are getting excessive, but are the Networks required by law to air them?
    If they aren’t, just air “American Idol” and all the other shows respectively.
    I do agree with the suggestion “Muckbeast” previously made for the Networks to “Rotate” the coverage (ie: only one network carries the respective Conference in question.)

  18. Anyone interested in the president’s news conference can watch on PBS if they don’t have cable, or on FNC, CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, CSPAN and maybe a few others on cable/satellite.
    In the 21st Century there is NO REASON for network TV ro pre-empt its schedule so people can watch a presidential press conference.
    Of course, these pre-emptions never happened with Bush. Bush’s news conferences were cable-only affairs.
    Let the nets tell the White House “no”. Grow a couple.

  19. Oh please, I see these same networks didnt grumble about Bush and it seemed it was every 15 minutes with him.

  20. if they wanna bitch that much then dont air it…..
    and btw… SCREW FOX

  21. Y is SVU bumped? Y not shorten the biggest loser? ARGH ! This is the FOURTH TIME SVU has been bumped!

  22. I don’t blame the networks – though CNN doesn’t seem to mind and is boradcasting yet another Obama speech tonight.
    He needs to shut up for a while – all these appearances on TV shows make no sense. I’ve added Obama Fatigue to my Bailout Fatigue.

  23. Ola galera, como vai essa força?
    Acho que vocês estão falando isso por que ainda não viu o site que eu vi
    de uma olhada http://www.tvdigitalnopc.com.br aposto que você também
    vão mudar de idéia como eu !!!

  24. I have a great idea – Oprah is buying a network I heard (and I hate the idea because I believe she is taking over DiscoveryMed) – Obama could ask her if he can use her network whenever he wants – that can name it the O O Show….

  25. Networks lose money because presidential appearances are commercial-free, meaning any time the networks cover the president, they lose advertising availabilities that can never be replaced.global financial crisis

  26. Wonderful that Lindsay Lohan is getting genuine with regards to herself, she must have rehabilitation like Mel Gibson needs a shrink, hopefully she would not get released from rehabilitation fast this time as becoming freed early from UCLA was very likely the main reason why the woman relapsed so quickly in the first place, i am just praying for you entirely Lindsay, I truly you will treat your addictive problems.

  27. There’s a bomb outdoors the Ulster Bank in Derry community.

  28. Quite possibly Sanchez was quite frankly envious of the fact that War Criminals in the current administration wouldn’t call him “invaluable”. That type of rejection can easily sting.

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