MCA to Close Store on Poorly Received TV Shopping Game

Times Staff Writer

MCA said Monday that poor ratings will spell the end for "The Home Shopping Game," a TV program that merges entertainment and home shopping, after its initial 13-week run concludes on Sept. 11, just two months after Lorimar axed a similar program.

The impetus for MCA's cancellation of the syndicated game show came from the four stations owned and operated by CBS that, along with other stations nationwide, show the half-hour program in morning time slots.

"Our decision to cancel it was based on the fact that audience levels were not growing," said Allen Shaklan, vice president of programming, news administration and station services for the CBS-owned stations. He added that the failure of MCA's program, as well as that of Lorimar Telepictures' "ValueTelevision," points out "the difficulty of trying to merge these two different goals" of entertainment and merchandising.

MCA's game show was a joint production with Home Shopping Network, a pioneer in selling merchandise over cable TV that has been trying to expand the format to broadcast television. On the show, contestants would vie for typical Home Shopping items while viewers could call in to buy merchandise.

Shelly Schwab, president of MCA TV Enterprises, said sales momentum was building and expressed regret that the program did not get a shot at a second 13-week run. He put some blame on Ollie North's shoulders. "The . . . hearings didn't help us," he said. "We were preempted across the country." However, he said, since being back on air "we've been building steadily each week.

"We were breaking new ground, and so was Lorimar. I'm still confident that that can be accomplished, but in today's TV environment, you either perform coming out of the box, or you're gone."

With the demise of MCA's program, ABC's "Bargain Hunters" remains the only entertainment-oriented home-shopping program on free TV. It premiered July 6.

A Home Shopping Network spokeswoman said the company will pursue another venture with MCA called "Home Shopping Overnight Service," scheduled to begin Sept. 15. MCA will feed the programming, which consists of regular Home Shopping fare, daily between midnight and 7 a.m. to stations and cable operators.

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