Why are old talk shows never reran on cable?
July 3, 2011 4:54 PM   Subscribe

Why are "classic" daytime talk shows (like Donahue, Geraldo, Sally, etc.) virtually never reran on cable?

I just wonder, if we have a channel that reruns game shows and many channels showing Everybody Loves Raymond, why hasn't someone picked up an old talk show? Talk shows usually did 200+ shows a year, times that by many years (Donahue did like 30 yrs), and you have a vast library. Donahue did lots of high-profile interviews (some on youtube), would be a shame for them not to see the light of day again.

Maybe it's that the shows are more dated/untopical and seemingly have low rerun value. Or the hosts won't sign the rights off. Or a legal issue that you have to get guest's permission to show them. Or in some cases, were the tapes destroyed/not preserved? Just thoughts.

I know they reran the David Letterman NBC shows somewhere. And USA showed a bunch of court show repeats way back.
posted by lankford to Media & Arts (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'd be willing to bet it's that 1) they tend to be so intensely time-bound that there isn't all that much incentive to even do reruns, and 2) they're so cheap to make that it makes about as much sense to just do a new one.
posted by valkyryn at 4:59 PM on July 3, 2011 [5 favorites]

One "hidden" reason is that, even when there are extensive libraries of videotapes of these shows, the technical quality of the tapes is often not good, by current HDTV standards, and audiences increasingly change channels away from non-HDTV quality content. Moreover, "print through," the old 4:3 standard NTSC aspect ratio, and simple things like dropout, can all make recovering programs to modern digital storage pretty labor and time intensive, and if your programs aren't available in digital format, you're not going to be scheduled or played on most cable or satellite TV programming systems, which are now almost totally digital automation.

Another round of reasons is that, believe it or not, cultural standards have moved a long way in the last 20 to 30 years, and a lot of celebrities that were featured on talk shows back in the day, making then-acceptable remarks and jokes, simply don't want to be faced with their younger selves, and have to explain all that to today's young TV audiences.
posted by paulsc at 5:52 PM on July 3, 2011 [2 favorites]

Also, some of these stars (Geraldo comes to mind right away) have changed a whole heck of a lot over the years. Assuming they have the rights to their old shows, they have some incentive to keep, e.g., the Geraldo Brawl off the air.
posted by SMPA at 6:52 PM on July 3, 2011

Few of the hosts own their shows. When King World's library was sold to CBS TV Distribution, not all of the masters came along. But so much of this materials just isn't ever-green. Even old Oprah episodes don't hold up-- Witches of Eastwick tied to Laurie Cabot appearance is really dated. And some celebs won't sign for all media, worldwide, in perpetuity.
posted by Ideefixe at 7:43 PM on July 3, 2011

I wouldn't be surprised if many of these shows weren't even archived at all.
posted by gjc at 9:55 AM on July 4, 2011

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