LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - CBS television, the most-watched U.S. network, has no plans to change its primetime schedule of mostly scripted programing to include more reality shows, Entertainment President Nina Tassler said on Monday.
Tassler also told TV critics at a meeting previewing the upcoming 2009 fall season that CBS was confident about meeting the challenge of Jay Leno moving his NBC chat show to primetime in September in a major shake-up of network TV.
“We’re very selective about what we put on and because we do well with scripted programing, why would we change?,” said Tassler. “We’re not going to fix what isn’t broken.”
CBS finished the 2009-09 season with an 11 percent growth in its average overall nightly viewership to 11.76 million. The other three major U.S. networks — News Corp’s Fox, Walt Disney Co’s ABC and General Electric Co’s NBC all dropped viewers by between 3 percent and 13 percent.
Tassler said CBS was “pretty confident” about taking on Leno at 10 p.m. five nights a week in the fall with its own shows “The Mentalist”, the new legal drama “The Good Wife” starring former “ER” star Julianna Marguiles, and crime hits “CSI:Miami” and “CSI:NY”.
NBC surprised TV industry watchers this past year when it unveiled plans to move Leno’s program from late night where it had been a hit to the 10 p.m. slot. That sort of move has not been done before with a talk show like Leno’s and is being closely followed in the media for its success or failure.
The move was designed to shake-up struggling NBC’s schedule and save the network millions in programing costs because it will not need to produce a scripted drama like those traditionally broadcast in that time period.
“10 o’clock has been a great business for us...Three of the returning shows win their time periods...We’re not really looking at what NBC is doing. We see this as a great opportunity. It’s a sea change in our business,” said Tassler.
She said the network had high hopes for “The Mentalist” in its new 10 p.m. slot against Leno. “It’s going to do well. It generates millions of dollars for us in revenue between foreign sales and syndication.”
CBS has fewer reality or unscripted shows than other networks, but Tassler said the network was premiering a new one “There Goes the Neighborhood” on Sunday.
Reporting by Jill Serjeant, editing by Leslie Gevirtz