CBS Television Distribution cancels “Judge Joe Brown”

After fifteen seasons, court is adjourned for Judge Joe Brown.

CBS Television Distribution announced the cancellation of the long-running courtroom strip Tuesday afternoon. It was reported last month that salary negotiations between CTD and Brown were ongoing as the syndicator wanted him to take a salary cut to return this fall, but reportedly rejected the offer.

A statement released by CTD is as follows: “We would like to thank Joe for fifteen great years, as well as executive producer John Terenzio and the entire staff for all their hard work on the show.” Judge Joe Brown was produced by Big Ticket Television, the same outfit who produces CTD’s Judge Judy.

CTD offered another judge to replace Brown, but the idea was outright rejected by the Fox O&Os, who owns the rights to the show in most of its markets, including WPWR-TV here. As a result, CTD now has to give up time periods occupied by Brown and local stations would have to find a replacement. Given Brown was the second highest-rated courtroom strip in daytime and the last replacement judge swap on a show the Fox O&Os carried didn’t go so well (Jackie Glass for Nancy Grace), you can’t blame the Fox stations for being pissed – especially since they and other station groups signed a deal to air the show though 2016.

While this may mark the end of Brown’s tenure at CTD, it may not necessarily mean the end of his TV career. Brown had reportedly met with other distributors, notably Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios, who currently have two courtroom strips on the air, and a third (Supreme Justice With Judge Karen) coming up this fall.

Brown’s departure comes as viewers may be tiring of the court genre. For the week ending March 17, each of the top six court shows declined in the ratings from a year ago and three of them – Brown included – hit season lows. Brown averaged a 2.1 households live-plus-same day rating, down 16 percent from a year ago, finishing a distant second to Judy.

In addition, two other long-in-the-tooth court series: Divorce Court and Judge Alex – both from Twentieth Television – are up for renewal in 2014. For the week ending March 17, both shows had identical 1.2 rating and each were down 8 percent from a year ago.

Judge Joe Brown in its current incarnation ends on September 6.

This story first appeared as an exclusive on Broadcasting & Cable’s website on Tuesday.