ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox will not host executive sessions at January’s TCA press tour, the TV Critics Association revealed today. That means journalists attending will not have the opportunity to ask questions of any execs of those networks during the semi-annual confab. Reporters Who Cover Television weren’t actually called “disgusting” in today’s news, but otherwise the move bears a certain resemblance to the campaign strategy of Donald Trump during his successful run at the White House. In Trump’s defense, he at least showed up at January TCA in 2015 to promote what would be his final round hosting NBC’s reality series The Celebrity Apprentice.
The broadcast networks are having what one pundit described privately as a middling to bad fall season, which might explain in part the execs’ reluctance to get onstage and take even the kind of softball questions typically lobbed their way at TCA these days. And every broadcast exec who takes the TCA stage these days comes well armed with a filibuster worth of announcements about debut-date changes, additional episode orders and other housekeeping news that tends to gobble up a good-ish chunk of their Q&A time.
The association assured its members the broadcast network execs will be in attendance at January TCA (back of the room, maybe?) during their networks day/days – just not up onstage to answer questions on the record. But TCA members were advised not to approach the network execs directly if they wanted to talk to them for their coverage of the event (lest they get Corey Lewandowski-d?). Instead, journalists were advised to “reach out to the appropriate publicists” if they wanted to talk to the stage-shy execs in the hall.
(In other TCA death-march news, Amazon is not participating in the winter tour; Netflix already had decided to give it a pass. The association explained to members that, what with CES, Sundance, the inauguration and Golden Globes happening at about the same time, “we had a limited number of days in which to fit numerous broadcasters. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to accommodate everyone’s specific requests this time around and so the schedule shifted.”)
The news that the broadcast networks — except the CW’s Mark Pedowitz, who now is officially the bravest broadcast network exec in America — decided to pass on taking questions from the media comes as TCA announced a gob-smacking result of a recent membership poll, in which just 60% declared it “important” to have an executive Q&A panel for each network at both of the org’s twice-yearly clambakes.
Given that stat, it can only be described as quixotic that a TCA officer, in the email to members, encouraged them to be sure to let the networks know how much they value exec sessions in both the winter and the summer TCA events.
Exec Q&A panels will resume with the summer tour, TCA assured. And Trump’s reps promised he’d act presidential, just as soon as he’d won the GOP primary.
TCA officially also pointed out “all of your favorite cable execs will also be back, as usual” for January TCA at the Langham hotel in Pasadena. Except that, with rare exception – including FX Networks/FX Productions CEO John Landgraf and Showtime’s David Nevins, for example – cable network execs tend to either dodge TCA or take the stage in staunch I’m-here-to-give-prepared-ratings-plugging-speech/no-questions-allowed mode.