A decision by WIN Television and NBN (Newcastle) not to air Come Fly with Me on Monday night is about as batty as they come.
According to the Newcastle Herald, NBN head of programming and publicity Kellie Hampton said the station would wait to see how the show was received by viewers in metropolitan markets.
“The regional TV audience is different and although the show has been classified ‘PG’ we want to see the feedback and ratings first.”
NBN is worried the show may will offend regional viewers and will instead play The Big Bang Theory. Talk about precious, Precious.
Yet the channel is owned by Nine Entertainment Co., steered by David Gyngell.
The show starring Matt Lucas and David Walliams will be rated PG when it airs at 8pm on Monday night, and whilst there will be edits these are minor. In fact they are nominal. The first episode probably doesn’t need any at all, but the second will need the occasional snip. There is still plenty to laugh at.
But what does the move by NBN and WIN say about how they see their audience?
Are they not grown up enough to see a PG rated show at 8pm?
Whilst it’s true the situation would never have arisen if Nine had played out the series in an M-rated timeslot, do audiences really want networks deciding if they are mature enough to handle the content? If Nine is actually editing the series to fit a PG timeslot isn’t that enough for WIN and NBN?
Affliate network WIN is politically trickier given it is owned by Bruce Gordon. WIN had previously snubbed a Nine series, The Catch-Up, over its own chat show Susie back in 2007, as well as Mornings with Kerri-Anne, in a disagreement about advertorial revenue.
But Come Fly with Me will air in WIN-owned Nine stations in Adelaide and Perth.
GO! will also screen it unedited at 10pm on Monday where regional viewers who are grown-up enough can catch the show. Viewers will be lucky to detect any difference between the edited / un-edited version this week.
Unless the NBN move has the blessing of David Gyngell he should do a Kerry Packer and pick up the phone and pull them into line.