The television networks begin their upfront presentation of next-season lineups in New York today (Monday), with NBC going first, more than two weeks ahead of its rivals. The network is calling its fall unveiling the "in-fronts," but it reportedly only plans to announce its pickups and a handful of new shows (including medical dramas Trauma and Mercy and family comedy Parenthood, based on the Ron Howard movie) today, saving the announcement for most of its new shows for later in the month. In an interview with Advertising Age , NBC Co-Chairman Ben Silverman said that the network plans to focus on scripted programs next season, airing them even on Friday nights, which it currently devotes primarily to its Dateline news magazine and reality shows. Given current economic conditions networks, including NBC, are unlikely to raise rates and will undoubtedly be happy just to hold on to the advertisers they signed up a year ago, trade reports observed. NBC sales chief Mike Pilot told Broadcasting & Cable magazine "There's been real pressure on pricing. I think if you are a buyer in these kinds of market conditions, in any industry, you're not feeling great about paying increases right now and we're not immune to that." Analysts are predicting that the network's upfront sales will be down 3-5 percent, while the four major broadcast networks will average downturns of 10-15 percent. In the face of declining revenues, NBC Co-Chairman Marc Graboff told Daily Variety that the network has asked all producers to "deliver a show that's either flat budget-wise, or in some cases we're saying, we need you to find X dollars, X percent of your budget. And however you do it is up to you, whether that's asking your cast members not to take an increase or to have less cast members come back, or have a smaller writing staff or less outside [location shooting] days."

04/05/2009