(SoapOperaNetwork.com) — Following the ABC Upfronts this past week in New York City, the ABC Television Network will be holding its annual affiliate board meeting at the Langham Huntington Hotel in Pasadena, California on Tuesday, May 24 and Wednesday, May 25 starting at 2:00 PM, PST. Up for discussion between ABC stations across the country will be the networks new crop of programming airing next season and how the programs will strengthen their standing in their respective markets.
In lieu of the event, soapfansunited.com will issue the following press release to General Managers of the ABC Affiliate Group headed up by Affiliate Board Chairman, Bill Hoffman, who is also the Cox Television's Atlanta ABC affiliate WSB-TV General Manager.
According to spokesman Shawn Brady (not to be confused with the character from "Days of our Lives") in a bold statement to ABC affiliates, "We don't want ABC to pull a Leno and replace the daypart on your station from quality scripted drama to cooking and weight loss programs that can be found on a late night basic cable station. NBC's decision to reinstate primetime programming at 10pm and Jay Leno back on The Tonight Show happened because despite the low cost of producing Leno's primetime show, the ratings were a disaster and affected NBC affiliates' late local news. The affiliates revolted and demanded change. Do you want ABC to make the same mistake with your noon and early evening local newscasts? Why go down that road, when we know what the outcome will be?"
Soap Fans United
May 20, 2011 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEAN OPEN LETTER TO BILL HOFFMAN,
ABC AFFILIATES BOARD CHAIRMAN & STATIONS ATTENDING THE
ABC TELEVISION NETWORK – 2011 AFFILIATE MEETING
AT THE LANGHAM HUNTINGTON HOTEL IN PASADENA, CA ON MAY 24 AND 25, 2011
Dear Mr. Hoffman & ABC Affiliates:
Disney/ABC has decimated its daytime lineup, canceling long running soaps All My Children & One Life To Live in favor of two unproven reality shows that will lead into the sole remaining scripted drama General Hospital. The ratings for AMC/OLTL may have declined along with all broadcast television programming, but both of these shows have enabled the majority of your stations to beat their competition and remain #1 in daytime in their markets.
We the viewers respect you as an ABC station/affiliate. Your station is #1 in daytime because we the viewers watch the whole ABC Daytime lineup to get something no primetime schedule can provide: character driven drama aired consistently 5 times a week, 250+ days a year, and NO reruns for more than 40+ years.
While AMC/OLTL have remained on the air, many great ABC shows have come and gone including: The Brady Bunch, Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley, Three's Company, Taxi, Home Improvement, Full House, Who's The Boss?, The Wonder Years, Roseanne, The Drew Carey Show, Spin City, Charlie's Angels, Love Boat, Dynasty, Moonlighting, MacGyver, The Practice, Boston Legal, Lost, and now Brothers and Sisters, and V. During the early 2000s, when ABC's Primetime division was in a ratings slump, we also had Who Wants To Be A Millionaire 4-5 times a week that collapsed the schedule until 2004 with the launches of Lost, Desperate Housewives and in 2005, Grey's Anatomy.
For many years these soaps were a cash cow for the network and ABC didn't hesitate to use the excess profits from them to plow back into their primetime shows for series development. Why isn't the reverse being done to shore up the daytime lineup and maximize the shows for monetization in this digital and product placement world?
We don't want ABC to pull a Leno and replace the daypart on your station from quality scripted drama to cooking and weight loss programs that can be found on a late night basic cable station. NBC's decision to reinstate primetime programming at 10pm and Jay Leno back on The Tonight Show happened because despite the low cost of producing Leno's primetime show, the ratings were a disaster and affected NBC affiliates' late local news. The affiliates revolted and demanded change. Do you want ABC to make the same mistake with your noon and early evening local newscasts? Why go down that road, when we know what the outcome will be?
Just because ABC claims that producing All My Children is 40% more expensive than a reality show doesn't mean it should be done. While the ABC network will still make a profit from a lower rated daytime show due to lower production costs, what will that mean to your station? It will mean: ending your station's dominance in daytime, lower profits because of a weak lead-in to your vital local early afternoon newscasts. Simply put, lower ratings will mean lower profits for you, which is not ABC's concern since they are only concerned with their bottom line and not yours.
How can ABC justify canceling One Life to Live? Currently ranked the top-rated ABC daytime soap as we close out the May 2011 sweeps period next week, the show comes under budget, is well written and acted, and is up year-to-year in every ratings category (Source: Nielsen Media Research). The soap currently ranks third in ratings behind only CBS' The Young & The Restless and The Bold & The Beautiful. In fact, the soap tied for 2nd place with B&B in households during the week of April 18-22, 2011 and was less than 90,000 viewers shy of beating it – the first time it had done so since May 2005. In an interview, Mr. Frons stated that only the strongest soaps will survive and that's why General Hospital is safe. "As long as we have good ratings it will stay in the lineup," Frons said. (Source: The Wrap 04/14/11)
When Brian Frons' predecessor, Angela Shapiro left ABC Daytime, the whole daytime lineup was healthy. There were three and a half hours of soap opera programming. During Frons' nearly 9-year tenure at the helm, he has decimated an art form that has spawned shows such as The Sopranos, ER, Dallas, Knot's Landing, Grey's Anatomy, Private Practice and Desperate Housewives. Why is ABC pushing serialized programming aimed at women in primetime but not in daytime? Their message to the advertising community and your stations is inconsistent.
Mr. Frons is taking apart a decades old tradition that can be updated and monetized and has built in brand recognition and viewer loyalty. Disney is supposed to be about synergy. Where is the Disney synergy with ABC daytime? Why put on two unproven shows and take a risk with Oprah Winfrey & Regis Philbin departing your station? Many of you are putting in an extra hour of news In place of Oprah but without a solid daytime lead in, the ratings are going to free fall with a domino effect from your newscasts to early prime to primetime to late local news and even late-night.
Our group held a Save Our Soaps rally at the ABC Upfronts in New York City's Lincoln Center on Tuesday, May 17, 2011. When Frons passed by, he waved and smirked at the very people who watch his daytime shows. The fact this man could be so disrespectful to his own viewers speaks volumes more than any words he could say.
We know you were not happy with ABC's decision in launching SOAPnet back in 2000 and many of you believe it may have led to lower daytime ratings, but with SOAPnet leaving the airwaves in 2012 why doesn't Disney/ABC give the soaps a chance to see if there will be a ratings resurgence before making any hasty decisions?
Our hope is that you will hold Brian Frons accountable with all these questions and ask what is he truly doing for your station to keep it successful in daytime.
We are your loyal and dedicated viewers who have watched programming on your station for more than 40 years. We respect you and remain loyal to you. We hope you will do what's right on behalf of your viewers.
About Soap Fans United
Soap Fans United is dedicated to helping spread useful, intelligent information among groups as many soap viewers proactively campaign to save the shows/genre and pursue the many avenues of preserving the legacy of scripted dramas on daytime television.
@BradyAlishawn on Twitter
Is the message effective? Tell us what you think.
- Soap Fans United
- Bill Hoffman