Television networks and stations were preparing Wednesday for life after O.J.
Most of the cable networks and local television stations that extensively covered the O.J. Simpson double-murder trial were planning to return to regular programming later this week or next week after they finish examining the aftermath of Tuesday's verdict.
One station executive said, however, that although the Simpson trial is over, the legal show must go on with new legal-oriented programming. The nine-month trial has apparently whetted the appetites of viewers to see more shows dealing with the legal process and flashy cases.
"We call them real-life soap operas without a script," said KTLA-TV Channel 5 General Manager Greg Nathanson, whose station aired gavel-to-gavel coverage of the Simpson trial. "Now we want to see if the O.J. phenomenon is a phenomenon, or a new form of programming for us."
KTLA hopes to broadcast the coming trial of the Menendez brothers, who are facing their second trial after being charged with murdering their parents.
"We want to see if they will allow cameras in the courtroom for that case," Nathanson said. "We would like to air it live from 9 to noon. We cannot blow out our afternoon schedule because of prior commitments with syndicators, so we would go back to regular programming of our reruns."
He added that although KTLA lost about $500,000 a week in advertising revenue when it started airing the Simpson trial, the station began breaking even later when it injected more commercial breaks into the coverage.
KNBC-TV Channel 4, which featured a nightly recap of the Simpson trial at 7:30, will start airing "A Current Affair" in that slot next week. KCOP-TV Channel 13, which was offering a trial summation at 10:30 p.m., expanded its 10 p.m. newscast to an hour on Monday.
CNN and E! Entertainment Television, two of the cable networks that provided gavel-to-gavel coverage, are returning to normal programming. CNN, however, will continue with its legal analysis series, "Burden of Proof," which airs weekdays at 12:30 p.m.
E! Entertainment is returning to its usual lineup of backstage Hollywood news stories and gossip shows. The network, which saw its ratings increase during its trial coverage, is also looking for another program to feature former network anchor Kathleen Sullivan, who presided over E!'s trial coverage.
CNBC's "Rivera Live!" with Geraldo Rivera will continue in a legal vein. The program, which focused exclusively on the Simpson trial, will examine other prominent cases and the possible civil wrongful death lawsuits pending against Simpson. The show airs nightly at 9.
Court TV, which also covered the trial gavel to gavel, has already started covering other court cases, officials at the network said.
On radio, meanwhile, KNX-AM (1070), which had broadcast gavel-to-gavel coverage of the Simpson proceedings, will resume its all-news format. The station had said during the trial that its long-running morning food show would not be returning.