Television Critics Tour Canceled

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The Television Critics Association Monday cancelled the January TCA press tour due to the ongoing TV writers’ strike.

In an email sent to TV critics late Monday night, TCA president Dave Walker said that the organization decided to pull the plug on the tour after meeting with representatives from tour host hotel Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City. The TCA authorized the hotel to release all hotel rooms and ballroom space reserved for the tour.

The TCA last week set a Dec. 14 deadline for pulling the plug on the tour if the strike was not settled. But after negotiations between the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers broke off this past weekend – and with a number of broadcast and cable networks already pulling out of the tour – the decision not to go on with the tour was accelerated.

“It was and remains the TCA’s preference to stage a January 2008 TV Tour, strike or not,” Walker, TV critic for the New Orleans Times-Picayune, said in the email. “Given the current woeful state of the negotiations, as well as broadcast-network reluctance to present during a strike, that does not appear possible.”

Walker said the TCA already has a “workable contract” for a January 2009 press tour and intends to sign it very soon. He added the networks have “not objected” to staging the tour next year.

Just two weeks ago the TCA, despite the strike, was planning to move ahead with a four-day schedule for cable networks, from Jan. 8-11, along with PBS.

But Walker informed TCA members on Dec. 1 that PBS had pulled out of the tour. In addition, several cable programmers including Turner Broadcasting, Disney, Lifetime Television, and reportedly MTV Networks and A&E Networks, were also planning to pull out, which forced the Dec. 14 deadline.

“From the beginning of this process, the commercial broadcast networks have cited expected budget cutbacks and their presumed inability to present panels for scripted programs as their reasons for not committing to a strike tour,” Walker said. “More recently, the networks have also reported that a strike settlement later in December or in early January would offer difficulties in presenting tour sessions, due to logistics issues and hurry-up production schedules.”

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