Why Tribune Broadcasting dropped Legend of the SeekerMay 4, 2010
I honestly cannot speak for the Tribune Station Group but it appears to me — after having done some research — that Tribune’s inability to pay its bills was the prime cause behind their decision not to renew Legend of the Seeker.
We’re having a debate at SF-Fandom about whether the Save the Seeker campaign is worthwhile. In order to understand the history behind the situation better, I have just compiled a list of news stories about Tribune’s bankruptcy and financial problems.
As far back as December 2008 it was reported that the syndicated shows carried by the Tribune group might be dropped. It was really only a matter of time because Tribune simply could not afford to pay its bills. They have now asked for approval of a restructuring plan that has alarmed some of their creditors (who are challenging the plan).
Tribune’s problems began in 2007 when realtor Sam Zell arranged billions of dollars in debt to buy the company. The economy then tanked, the news industry lost massive revenues, and the Tribune Station Group lost advertising revenues. Tribune fell behind in servicing its debt and therefore had to declare bankruptcy.
Zell’s buyout of the company will now be investigated by an examiner appointed by the U.S. Trustee overseeing the bankruptcy proceedings. Tribunes former CEO, Randy Michels, resigned on Friday and he has been replaced by Jerry Kersting, who has worked with Michels since the buyout. Kersting was also in charge of the station group.
I won’t guess whether there will be changes in Tribune’s strategic policy making — they are not out of the woods yet and have to come up with a business plan that will satisfy the bankruptcy process.
We’re probably lucky we got a second season of Legend of the Seeker.
The Nielsen Company tracks 210 Designated Market Areas (DMAs) in the United States. Tribune’s 23 television stations cover 22 of the largest markets (including 11 of the top 20 markets).
If my information is correct, ABC Studios needs to find TV stations in the following markets to keep Legend of the Seeker in production. Markets are listed in order of size:
- New York City
- Los Angeles
- Dallas-Ft. Worth
- Washington, D.C.
- Miami-Ft. Laurderdale
- St. Louis
- Salem-Portland, OR
- Bloominton, IN
- Kokomo, IN
- San Diego
- Hartford-New Haven, CT
- Waterbury, CT
- York-Harrisburg-Lancaster-Lebanon, PA
- Grand Rapids-Battle Creek-Kalamazoo, MI
- New Orleans
The vast majority of these stations are affiliates of Fox or The CW. Remember, local TV stations fill their non-network time (usually) with syndicated programming.
NOTE: Fox dropped The Family Guy for a couple of years and then picked the show back up after it sold 2 million DvDs. So even if ABC kills the show, there may still be a chance if we can buy enough DvDs.
ABC Studios and Disney, are you listening?