Tooning In On Late Night

The following is a topic that was raised on the Toon Zone Forums that I’d like to address here. To avoid confusion, the original poster’s comments will be typed in italic, while mine will be typed normally.

For the most part, classic cartoons are non existent on American TV. There’s plenty of channels that air classic movies and TV shows, but we only have one all classic cartoon channel (Boom) and as we all know, there schedule is VERY limited. 

…And even the so-called  “classic” movie and TV channels are showing original shows and movies now. Also, Boomerang stopped being a classic cartoon channel a few years ago. Boom is Cartoon Network’s recycle bin. Beyond that the channel serves no purpose. It’s like I said in an earlier post, the audience for 50s to 80s nostalgia is far too narrow a market for a channel devoted solely to it to work now. In no time, the channel would be re-branded as a general entertainment channel.

I remember watching a slew of cartoons in the 70’s and 80’s that hasn’t seen the light of day in years. Is it really that expensive to get the rights to rooms like Battle of the Planets, Voltron, New adventures of Popeye, 70’s Tarzan cartoon and many, many more? 

Dude, you’re going waaaay back. You’re talking about when we were kids back in the ancient 1970s. Back then, there was no such thing as cable and cartoons shows ran wild all over the TV. You had syndicated programs with umbrella titles such as Bugs, Woody and Popeye, Bugs & Popeye, Bugs & Woody, Bugs Bunny’s Buddies, Cartoon Carnival, etc., but the industry has changed a lot since then. We’re not going to see television return to the way that it was in the 1970s because that world doesn’t exist anymore.

The answer to your question is yes. It is that expensive because like I already said, the industry has changed a lot since we were kids. These days all of the old-school cartoons have been bought up by big corporations. Turner Broadcasting currently owns the Warner Brothers, MGM and Hanna-Barbera cartoons. Casper, Lassie and the like are owned by Classic Media, which was recently purchased by Dreamworks. The Filmation library of shows are presently tied up in legal red tape over who actually owns the individual franchises. And Disney, well, the Mouse House has never loaned out it’s library of cartoons to anyone, and they’re even less inclined to do so now that they have 4 cable/satellite channels under their belt.

I mean if you really think about it, wouldn’t it be a good idea if local stations aired some of these toons late night? It just seems that a lot of these classic toons are just sitting around in some old warehouse collecting dust instead of being viewed as they should be.

That’s an interesting idea, but it would never work now. Not in this market. First, local stations don’t have the broadcasting rights to those old cartoons; most of them have since been scooped up by big corporations and local affiliates would have to pay these corporations a fee in order to run them on their stations late at night. Second, the late night market has become very cutthroat. The old-school toons would have to compete in a market that’s now dominated by Jay Leno, David Letterman, Jimmy Kimmel, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Conan O’ Brien, ABC’s Nightline and CN’s Adult Swim block. Most people wouldn’t be willing to switch off a new episode of The Daily Show or The Colbert Report in favor of a 40-year-old rerun of Yogi’s Gang or a 60-year-old rerun of The Flintstones. A few adults might, but not enough of them to justify the cost and trouble that a local station would have to undergo to launch such a venture. Third, most of the local stations are also network affiliates who also air shows like Letterman and Leno late at night, and so the local affiliates would likely just air the old cartoons after the networks’ late night programs, thus pushing them back so far into the wee hours that one would need radar to find them. Finally, the other major issue preventing such a move is of course money. TV stations air what makes them the most money. Local stations make more money airing infomercials than they would airing classic cartoons, so they run infomercials. Network officials know that even a rerun of Conan or Family Guy is going to put more butts in seats than old Popeye cartoons would. The cold hard truth is that nostalgia just isn’t profitable right now.

I know that people are tired of me saying this, but I here it is one mo’ time: I think that instead of trying to get these “classic” cartoons back on TV, that we should instead be lobbying for these old-school shows to get proper video/DVD releases. Seriously, like my brother Damon has said, if you had your own kick-ass collection of cartoons that you could watch whenever you wanted, it wouldn’t matter one wit to you what the local stations were airing.

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