He’s been called a fake and an embarrassment to broadcasting, but KCAL-TV Channel 9 says it has no plans to yank tabloid talk-show host Jerry Springer off the air.
“It is a very successful show in Los Angeles,” said Marshall Hites, the head of KCAL’s marketing and advertising departments. “The people in L.A. have spoken. They want to watch.”
Springer routinely beats the 11 p.m. newscasts that he’s up against locally, with the exception of the one from top-rated KNBC-TV Channel 4.
Ratings aside, Springer has been grabbing the headlines lately because former guests accused his show of faking violence-filled segments. Springer has denied the charges, although he noted during a recent news conference that “to be on our show, you have to be outrageous, or your situation has to be outrageous.”
In Chicago, NBC-owned WMAQ-TV recently dropped the show under community pressures, despite high ratings. Springer was promptly picked up by WFLD-TV, the local Fox affiliate.
Not everybody wants to advertise with Springer. One Los Angeles-based ad agency, Dailey & Associates, refuses to put its clients into the talk show.
Encinitas-based media buyer Media That Works also skips Jerry, said Senior Vice President John A. O’Connor.
“The audience is loyal and large, but our advertisers don’t want to be in this environment,” O’Connor said. “They don’t want to be associated with sex, violence and the whole tabloid arena.”
What is the future for Springer in Los Angeles and nationally? Bill Carroll, director of programming at New York-based Katz Television, which consults TV stations on what shows to buy, believes the controversy surrounding Springer will only add to the show’s success.
“It will increase the curiosity about the program,” he said. “More people will tune in to see if it is fake or real, especially during the May sweeps.”