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Cable Takes TCA Stage

1/14/2010 2:28 AM

Now that NBC’s newest reality series The Jay, Conan and Jeff Show has left the stage at the Winter Television Critics Association press tour , its now time for the cable industry to shine in Pasadena.

Several of the industry’s top cable programmers including HBO, Discovery, MTV, Nat Geo, AMC and FX are gearing up for presentations to TV Critics during the last three days of the two-week TCA tour.

While cable looks to put its best foot forward for more than 200 television critics and bloggers attending the tour, there are several high profile cable companies that have chosen to stay home. A&E Networks and Turner Broadcasting are two of the more prominent companies skipping the tour, which serves as a platform for networks to introduce its new Spring/Summer line of series and top talent

A&E, which appeared during last year’s Winter tour, sited scheduling issues regarding the mid-to-late year launch of several of its new and returning shows for its absence. The network, however, is expected to have a presence during the Summer version of the tour in late July.

Turner networks including TNT and CNN will miss a second straight Winter press tour, but company executives also say the networks will  return for the summer portion.

For those networks on stage beginning today, the TCA still provides a unique and important opportunity to gain exposure for their new programming.

“TCA is the perfect forum for us to showcase our upcoming projects with our A-List talent as we can reach the nation’s top critics, tv writers, and bloggers all in one place,” said Spike TV president Kevin Kay. Spike will trot out ring sports veterans Hulk Hogan, Joe Frazier and Larry Holmes during its Friday presentation.

AMC general manager Charlie Collier said the tour has actually helped cable in its ongoing battle for parity with network television both for presentation time at the event as well as for ink in television columns. “We see TCA as a vital conduit between the network and our viewers, and their support as one of the first organizations to get behind Mad Men and Breaking Bad, for example, has been paramount to the success AMC has achieved,” he said.

The year’s tour tour will also provide an introduction to a couple of veteran executives at their new network gigs. Starz’ new CEO and former Home Box Office exec Chris Albrecht is expected to address writers during the pay TV service’s Saturday afternoon presentation, while MTV’s recently-named executive vice president of scripted development and former WB programming executive David Janollari will most likely attend the network’s session tomorrow.

All in all it should be an interesting and potentially positive three days for cable.

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