MTV Networks has decided to sit out the summer session of the Television Critics Association press tour next month after pundits asked for more newsworthy, celebrity-driven presentations.
The programmer hasn't ruled out appearing at the TCA's winter 2003 session, which will move from Pasadena, Calif. to downtown Los Angeles.
MTV: Music Television, VH1, The National Network and Country Music Television will not appear at the three-week, semiannual TCA tour that begins July 9 after determining the networks didn't have shows featuring the established stars the critics are looking for as part of their tour experience.
MTV last January presented its hit series The Osbournes
— along with the whole family cast.
"From the feedback we've received from the TV critics, the key component of what they were looking for were big stars," said an MTV spokeswoman. "We feel like we're much more in the new talent business, so we decided the timing wasn't right to appear at the July TCA."
But all the TCA asked for was for compelling news from the networks to make the sessions worthwhile for TV writers, according to association president Diane Werts.
"What we've been getting are panel executives standing on stage for 28 minutes at a time saying we have X million subscribers and sort of reading what was already in the press kit, and that wasn't a valuable use of our time," Werts said. "We said we wanted the panels to be newsworthy and not a state of the channel today."
Werts added that while some MTV Networks may have had interesting news, the internal machinations between the networks may have made it difficult for one to get a longer time slot than another.
Still, she hopes MTV will return to the fold next January, when the tour relocates from the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Pasadena, Calif. to the brand new Renaissance Hollywood Hotel in Los Angeles.
Werts said while the Ritz Carlton has served the TCA well since 1995, the Renaissance is more centrally located to the networks' headquarters, and more accessible to celebrities living in the area.
Werts said programmers drove the change of venue, who prefer to remain in the greater Los Angeles area rather than travel to Pasadena to make their presentations. "The networks were especially pushing hard for a different location. They feel it's closer to them, and they felt there were more options in that area for entertaining during the evenings."
The tour's structure, though, won't change with the venue. Werts said the TCA will continue to offer separate cable and network presentations for the foreseeable future, rather than vertically integrating similarly owned cable and broadcast networks within one session.
The association experimented with a vertically integrated format last winter, but Werts said there was often a lack of coordination between the cable and broadcast networks.
"While we think that will be the way to go in the future, we discovered that most of the presenters were not ready for it," she said. "But eventually, when we get more of this type of integration on the air, then you'll probably see more joint presentations."