TV Week – Print Edition, R.I.P. (1982-2009)

Kind of a sad day for yours truly, since I credit this magazine and the now-defunct TV/Radio Age for stoking my interest in this business…

Crain’s Communications announced today it is folding its print version of Television Week and at the same time, launching a spinoff titled NewsPro as a print monthly. NewsPro is currently a monthly feature launched in the 1990’s as a feature in what was then called Electronic Media.

But the good news is, TV Week will still be around as a web-only publication. You can find the link to the site on The Sidebar to the right.

The move is being made because there isn’t much ad support for print trade magazines as they used to. In fact, TV Week’s website reaches more readers than the print publication does.

Once upon a time, the NATPE issue of Electronic Media would fetch 130 or so pages. This year’s NATPE edition of TV Week yielded only 28. With the dwindling number of syndicators over the last decade (thanks to mergers and consolidation), fewer companies buying ads means fewer ad revenue.

Recently, competitor Broadcasting & Cable returned to a traditional standard-size magazine, after years of being a large-size tabloid to save on publishing costs.

Television Week was founded as Electronic Media in 1982 as a weekly supplement inside Advertising Age based out of Chicago. It became a separate magazine a few months later, and grew to become one of the industry’s leading media magazine. It covered not only television, but radio as well.

In 1999, the magazine moved its operations to Los Angeles to be closer to the industry it covers. In 2003, Crain changed the name to Television Week, to emphasize its commitment to serving the television industry.

The print edition ends on June 1.

Thought: Yours truly was a subscriber to Electronic Media from 1989 to 2007, when it was known as Television Week. I became a subscriber because of EM’s coverage of all aspects of television from cable to broadcast – and especially syndication, which EM had the best coverage of any of the trade magazines. And by being based in Chicago, it was kind of cool to have a media magazine – a New York or Los Angeles kind of thing – based in the Midwest, in my hometown. During a time when my subscription was temporarily suspended and I had to go to Crain’s on Rush Street to buy a copy, I got a chance to see EM’s newsroom and see editor P.J. Bednarski working behind his desk.

But when publisher and editorial director (and former Chicago Tribune TV Critic) Ron Alridge retired in early 1999, and the magazine’s headquarters shifted to Los Angeles shortly thereafter, it was kind of a beginning of the end.

When it became Television Week in 2003, the magazine’s quality started to slowly slip when it started running pictures of Hollywood parties and some of the articles became more and more inane (Is Desperate Housewives More Popular in Red States than Blue States?) The website’s reporting became sloppier and sloppier – referring to television stations by their dumb branding slogans instead of their actual call letters (“NBC 4 Washington launches cell -phone service”… huh?) and a columnist referring to Philadelphia during last year’s World Series as “a small market” because the Phillies weren’t a big draw compared to the Yankees and Red Sox.

And then there were the comments section. While many conversations were insightful and imformative, others were quite pointless. When James Hibberd had a blog on TV Week, the comments were often filled with political nonsense and even racial slurs.

But still, Electronic Media and TV Week gave insightful commentary and excellent reporting that no other magazine wasn’t able to match.

If it wasn’t for columnists like Alridge, Diane Mermigas, Alex Ben Block, Tom Shales, William Mahoney, Marianne Paskowski, and their knowledge and passion for this business – my fascination of the media industry – and probably this blog – wouldn’t exist. And to them, Crain Communications, and the hard working staff who put the magazine together over the years, I say – thank you.

When I started following this business in 1985, there were four physical trade magazines – Channels, TV/Radio Age, Broadcasting (later Broadcasting & Cable), and Electronic Media.

Today, only Broadcasting & Cable remains as a print publication.

Man, how times have changed.


1 thought on “TV Week – Print Edition, R.I.P. (1982-2009)

    • Many thanks for the kind words about my old publication. It pleases me to know that we had a favorable impact on you and your work and that you remember us fondly. Electronic Media was a wonderful experience for all of us fortunate enough to have worked there when it was at its peak. What we brought to the party, I think, was passion. That and an honest belief that the television industry really matters and ought to be covered accordingly by journalists.
      I spent 34 years in journalism and working at EM was by far the most satisfying and enjoyable part. Learning of the publication’s departure, at least as a print entity, was sad but hardly unexpected. Times change, I suppose.
      Thanks again. And good luck in your own impressive venture. We still need good, serious media coverage and we are indebted to those of you who are providing it.
      Best wishes.

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