Strip programming

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Strip programming or stripping is a technique used for scheduling television and radio programming to ensure consistency and coherency. Television or radio programs of a particular style (such as a television series) are given a regular time slot during the week, so that it appears as a strip straight across the weekly schedule. For example, radio and television broadcasters may program a news program at rush hours every day, or at least every weekday.

Strip programming is used to deliver consistent content to targeted audiences. Broadcasters know or predict the times at which certain demographics will be listening to or watching their programs and play them at that time. Drive time and prime time programming are classic examples of strip programming, with similar content being broadcast every day at the same time to target specific demographics. Strip programming is sometimes criticized as making programming too predictable, and reducing diversity and uniqueness.

Overview[edit]

Strip scheduling often applies to any program that airs on multiple consecutive days during the calendar week (most commonly Monday through Friday), whether carried through a television network (such as with a talk show, news program or soap opera) or in syndication. However, it is commonly restricted to describing the airing of television programs that were originally broadcast on a weekly basis during their original run: The West Wing could be stripped but not Jeopardy!, as Jeopardy! was originally intended to be run daily. However, it can also refer to shows in prime time that run daily, such as with the short-lived The Jay Leno Show in 2009 and 2010.[1]

For much of the 1960s and into the early 1990s, stripping for syndication was one of, if not the primary profit component of the studio production model in American television. A show became far more profitable if it succeeded in getting three full U.S. seasons (about 75 episodes) or more, as then it was possible to strip it for fifteen weeks (15×5=75) before needing to repeat episodes. Once a series attained five seasons (which would push the show over the 100 episodes threshold), it would be a full six months before it would repeat. For Star Trek, in particular, this was relevant. Only due to an unprecedented letter-writing campaign was the show renewed for its third season, and it did not begin to attain wider popularity until appearing in syndication for a number of years. If it had failed to be renewed for a third season, it would not have been syndicated, and its subsequent popularity and influence would likely not have occurred. Many other shows with lukewarm response in their initial runs became widely appreciated cult favorites as a result of syndication, or helped keep cultural memes associated with them far more widely known than if the shows had only been viewable during their initial time frame.

Michael Grade was responsible for introducing stripped and stranded schedules to the BBC's television service in the United Kingdom in his role as controller of BBC1: from February 18, 1985 onward,[citation needed] the schedule has consisted entirely of half-hour or hour-long programs starting on the hour, or half-hour (the BBC channels do not carry spot advertising). For example, Grade's new schedule provided at 19:00, the talk show Wogan thrice weekly and two episodes of EastEnders and fixed the national news at 18:00 and 21:00, and regional news at 18:30. Before this date, programs would start at almost any time and programs could have different times on consecutive weeks or even days, for example:[2]

Airtime Programme
17:40 60 Minutes (17:52 regional news, 18:15 national magazine)
18:40 Harty
19:05 Cliff!
20:05 Cockles
21:00 News
21:25 Whicker's World
22:30 Sportsnight

Compare with a 2007 schedule for the same channel:

Airtime Programme
18:00 BBC News and Weather
18:30 Regional news program
19:00 Watchdog
19:30 EastEnders
20:00 Holby City
21:00 Judge John Deed
22:00 BBC News
22:35 Comedy drama

Stripping has also become an even more common practice on many British channels since the introduction of multi-channel cable and satellite television in the 1990s.

In many other countries, even new episodes of various series are aired every weekday. For example, if such a station gets the most recent season of a television series originating from the United States, the episodes will air in this way for two or three weeks, after which they are replaced by another show in the same timeslot.

In Australia, Network Ten and its sister station, Eleven have stripped The Simpsons for many years, airing the show daily at 6:00 p.m., which is traditionally the news hour on rivals Seven Network and Nine Network. Despite some attempts to fill this slot with original programming, The Simpsons stripped at 6:00 p.m. remains a mainstay of Australian television.

References[edit]