The following is a news report with editorial commentary afterwards.
Because the Fox network and 4Kids Entertainment are unable to work out a contractual dispute about revenues stemming from how many stations are or are not carrying the current Saturday morning animated programming that 4KE provides, Fox has decided to end their business relationship with the children's entertainment supplier and cancel their Saturday morning programming affected January 2009.
While no replacement programming has been officially announced, a statement from the Fox network representative leaves most to believe that Saturday mornings will become a gigantic block of infomercials both on the national and local station level.
Now I have never hidden the fact that I am a fan of the animation genre. Granted, I am watching no where near as much as I used to in my much younger years because most people consider the art form "just for kids" and create such shows accordingly, but I seriously think that this development is a huge step in a growing trend that needs to be addressed.
The major networks (ABC, CBS, and NBC) used to program their entire Saturday morning air time block towards the younger viewers. Even before the content of these shows became more educational than adventurous, the networks still provided good wholesome entertainment.
But things have changed.
Now the Big Three, as they are collectively known, all present weekend editions of their daily morning news programs (Good Morning America, CBS This Morning, and Today respectively) and allow the affiliates to present local versions of the same, before using the remaining airtime of Saturday mornings for children's programming.
And then they wonder why their ratings and ad revenues for this part of their overall schedule are not what they used to be.
Granted, there are now a lot more options (The WB/CW on Saturday mornings, Nickelodeon, the Cartoon Network, etc.) for the younger viewers and their parents than there used to be, but just because other competitors have entered the competition doesn't mean that one should just quit playing.
NBC is now presenting children's programming from the Discovery Channel, while the other two re-air shows from the affiliated networks of their respective owners (CBS/Paramount: Nickelodeon of Viacom, ABC: Disney Channel).
Not only do children need educational programming and entertaining shows, they also need variety!
While no one can or should spend all their free time watching television, if the number of options when the viewers do want to watch dwindle down to just a select few who always show the same types of series over and over again, then children and their parents will tune out even more than they are now from "the Big Three" networks; and for an industry that lives and dies by audience ratings and ad revenues, that is certainly not a good thing.