The move of "The Hogan Family" from NBC to CBS next season is unlikely to trigger a wave of network-jumping in the TV industry, says David Salzman, president of Lorimar Television, which produces the sitcom.
Salzman said that CBS was able to snag the series, now in its fourth season, because Lorimar had a special arrangement with NBC under which the network had to make a decision about renewing the show by April 1, rather than waiting until the usual period between mid-May and mid-June. Because NBC did not exercise that option, Salzman said, the show became a "free ball."
"It is an unusual circumstance," he said in an interview after the move to CBS was disclosed Tuesday. "Although we have been able to negotiate early-decision options with other shows in the past, it is definitely the exception to the rule. I don't think this is the starting of a trend."
Other series have jumped networks in the past. ABC, for example, is currently running "The Father Dowling Mysteries," which was on NBC last season. But in that case and most others, the show was formally canceled by the first network before the second picked it up.
Both Salzman and an NBC spokeswoman said that NBC was unwilling to make an early commitment to "The Hogan Family" because the No. 1-rated network has a strong list of candidates for its available time slots and had wanted more time to decide.
CBS "did not steal the show from us," the NBC spokeswoman said. ". . . We made a conscious decision to pass because of the strength of our current development."
"The Hogan Family's" ratings are still good--it ranks 35th among 111 prime-time series that have aired on the three networks this season--but are down about 14% from last year.
Salzman said that CBS, which has had little success coming up with comedy hits in recent years, had expressed interest in "The Hogan Family" two years ago when it was in danger of being canceled by NBC due to marginal ratings.
"We really found a situation where CBS was aggressive and enterprising in the way they pursued the show, which is a time-period winner," he said. "We would never get into a situation where we would try to negotiate (one network) against another."
While Salzman said an early decision date can aid a producer by forcing a network to make a commitment, it can also backfire if the network decides to pass on the show early and no one else is interested in picking it up. Sometimes more decision time can work in favor of a show with low ratings, he said.
Salzman said that Lorimar's association with NBC remains amicable. NBC Entertainment President Brandon Tartikoff "was very gracious," he reported. "He said that, unfortunately, NBC just wasn't able to make an (early) decision. He wished us luck--but not too much luck."