Cable Nets Face Limits On TCA Time in January

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The Television Critics Association press tour will commence at a new venue in early January, but with less time for cable-network presentations than in previous winter sessions.

The cable industry will maintain its three days of presentations when the tour opens Jan. 6 at the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. The event moves to the Renaissance after spending the last eight years at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Pasadena, Calif.

But several cable networks — which, in the past, have appeared at the TCA under the aegis of their sister networks —won't have that opportunity this year, due to an overall decrease in time for broadcast presentations.

As a result, the MTV Networks group — part of Viacom Inc. co-owned UPN's presentation last year — will now showcase its fare during cable's condensed, three-day block, according to TCA representatives.

Despite the lost time, National Cable & Telecommunications Association officials said the trade group was able to find space for almost every network that wanted to participate.

"We were able to accommodate in one fashion or another all of the networks that wanted to have a presence there," NCTA vice president of public affairs Jim Ewalt said.

In order to make room, some networks — such as E! Entertainment Television and BBC America — will for the first time tout their new shows to writers during the traditional lunch break.

And some perennial TCA presenters — like Comedy Central and Disney Channel — will not make the trip this winter, due to issues with their finished products and with scheduling. Both expect to return in July.

TCA president Diane Werts acknowledged that both cable and broadcast networks wanted more presentation days, but said economic factors facing association members forced the organization to trim the amount of time devoted to the tour.

She believes the shortened schedule and the added presentation times will ultimately benefit all parties.

"In the long run, its better for the writers and better for the presenters to have as many people there as possible, even though it's a little shorter window," she said. "We don't have the luxury of having a 24-day tour like we had eight or nine years ago. There's not a way to give everybody what they want and still have a viable tour."

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