October 18, 1999
DISNEY CUTS SHOW TIMES
source: NY Observer
ABC has ordered the producers of its prime-time TV programs to trim their shows by at least 30 seconds per episode. The order will immediately create more advertising space and should give ABC's corporate parent, the Walt Disney Company, an additional $50 million.
posted on October 18, 1999 03:36 PM
Walt Disney's chief executive, Michael Eisner, has made it clear he wants to squeeze more money from his $19 billion, third-place TV network, which is struggling to make a profit this year... Meanwhile, Mr. Eisner has had to sit on the sidelines and watch the merger of CBS and Viacom. This new mega-company, which includes its own theme parks and movie and television production units, is a new corporate rival for Disney.
For ABC's '99-'00 prime-time season, the running time of sitcoms will be shortened from 22 minutes to 21 or even lower, ABC producers said.
Marshall Herskovitz, the co-creator of Thirtysomething, whose Once and Again debuts on ABC this fall, was not pleased with the time-shaving edict. "I think, unfortunately, it fits into the context of the corporate theory of the late 20th century, which is to bow to the immediate needs of stockholders to the detriment of the long-term health of the corporation," Mr. Herskovitz said. "Eventually, they're going to scare away audiences. They're competing with cable shows, some of whom don't have any commercials. When an audience has to wait three, four or even five minutes before the program comes back, there's likely to be erosion."