Citing a strong desire to respond to viewer concerns, KSL officials announced Tuesday that they are making significant adjustments to their afternoon television schedule.
"We have received thousands of letters from viewers who have made it very clear to us that they want to see family programming in the afternoon, and they want to see M*A*S*H back at 5 o'clock," said KSL general manager William R. Murdoch. "We are responding to our charter to provide for the public the kind of programming it wants to see."So beginning April 3, the Ch. 5 afternoon line-up will look like this: 2 p.m. - Hollywood Squares; 2:30 - Win, Lose or Draw; 3 - The Oprah Winfrey Show; 4 - The Cosby Show; 4:30 - Charles in Charge; and 5 - M*A*S*H.
"The Wonderful World of Disney," which has been playing daily at 2 p.m., will be given a weekend slot.
The biggest change involves moving two family comedies - "Cosby" and "Charles in Charge" - into the 4-5 p.m. time period, an hour that has been criticized for featuring programs like Donahue (Ch. 2), Night Court (Ch. 4) and even "M*A*S*H," none of which are considered appropriate viewing for youngsters who are home from school and watching TV at that time.
KSL is moving "Cosby" into the 4 p.m. slot knowing that it will probably lose money on the expensive syndicated program. Viewing levels are considerably lower at 4 than at 5, and so advertising rates are also proportionately lower. But more than that, "Cosby" hasn't been the ratings blockbuster KSL anticipated at 5. Murdoch said he hopes that by moving "M*A*S*H" back into the time period it has dominated for years, Ch. 5 can recapture some of its audience leading into the CBS and KSL news programs, and thus compensate for the "Cosby" losses.
Still, Murdoch insists that the changes are "driven by programming, not sales" and that "we're not reacting to numbers; we're reacting to people."
"It was hard to make a decision like this, since what we're talking about here is probably the biggest mid-season programming move we've ever made," Murdoch continued. "But we felt we had to do something to respond to all the comments we were getting. Some people in this business say that phone calls and letters from viewers don't make a difference, but they do here at KSL. And now we're trying our best to get the kind of quality programming people want to see on the air."
-HAS NETWORK TELEVISION gone too far this season? Well, NBC has appointed Dr. Rosalyn Weinman to a newly created position: vice president for program standards and community relations. They are also going to expand their standards and practices division. I'd consider those moves a two-part guilty plea from the Peacock Network.
-ON TV TONIGHT: There's a little something for everyone, including the usual line-up of highly rated NBC series on Ch. 2 (OK, OK - so the only ones that aren't reruns are Day By Day at 7:30 and L.A. Law at 9. There are still some worthwhile repeats here), part one of a two-part showing of Disney's The Shaggy Dog (7 p.m., Ch. 4), two NCAA Tournament Basketball Games (6 and 8 p.m., Ch. 5), a stimulating discussion of legal ethics on Ethics in America (8 p.m., Ch. 7) and the premiere of Mystery!'s (9 p.m., Ch. 7) 12-part dramatization of Len Deighton's spy trilogy, "Game Set & Match."
And looking toward Friday, be prepared for the first network return of Mary Martin's Peter Pan (7 p.m., Ch. 2) in 16 years, more NCAA Tournament Basketball (6 and 8 p.m., Ch. 5) and Jazz-Rockets NBA Basketball (6:30 p.m., Ch. 13).