Though I hate it, I use Facebook to keep up with TV schedules for a few TV stations. The days of the venerable TV Guide are long gone. After McClatchy bought the local newspaper, Old Reliable’s TV listings got the ax. I’m dependent on social media to keep up with listings and sudden schedule changes. As with anything on Facebook, a simple look-up involves exposure to rampant American idiots pitching tantrums like 3-year-olds no matter how old they are. A perfect example of this happened in late June. The classic TV station, FETV, announced they were retiring The Wild Wild West after a two-year run. Predictably, all hell broke loose on the channel’s page.
FETV is the go-to for classic TV programs. Originally called the LeSea Network and part of World Harvest Radio and TV, the station moved from religious programming to a lineup of classic shows around 2015. The move was timely. Their #1 cable competitor, FamilyNet, went under in 2017. FamilyNet’s lineup featured shows from Sony Pictures Television. In 2017, Sony raised prices for syndication. As a result, parent company Rural TV unceremoniously dumped all Sony programming. Rebranded as The Cowboy Channel, it focused on the exciting world of old rodeos and cattle auction reruns. With such breathlessly exciting programming, viewership sank like a rock. Stepping into the void, FETV picked up Sony’s cult classic shows, increasing their viewership and revenue.
That brings us to the current social media drama. Leased for two years, the contract for The Wild Wild West expired on June 30th. FETV chose not to renew and replaced the show with Matlock. The outcry was equal to the arrival of the Apocalypse. Viewers rent outer garments as they were hurled into the outer darkness of a Jim West-less world. A great wailing and gnashing of teeth arose, filling the Facebook feed with outrage as viewers contemplated life without an afternoon fix of tight leather trousers. Some viewers went so far as communicating dire threats to the channel.
During this online ruckus, I contacted someone at FETV over a transmission error. The station was grateful a viewer let them know. I made a mention of the Facebook brouhaha. The poor rep said, “Our viewers are certainly passionate about our schedule!” The rep went on to reassure the social media complainers why the station simply chose not to renew. A whole new lineup will premiere in September. Negotiations are now underway for other shows.
Evidently, few posters understood how syndicated television works. Some thought the show was in production and Robert Conrad was alive. Others thought FETV owned the show in perpetuity. I should have known better than to post a comment to educate these people. After patiently explaining a station leases the show from a vendor for a specific period and contracts eventually expire, I was met with discouraging words. My warning of the fate of FamilyNet fell on deaf ears. To them, I was an idiot and a liar. I was a corporate lackey. The people knew the channel was withholding Jim West from them just to be mean! A grand conspiracy was afoot!! WAHHHH!!!
Even in the face of these facts, the posters had none of it. Insults flew at maximum velocity. They threatened. They stamped tootsies. Dark threats to terminate cable service appeared. They wanted Jim West, or they would all collectively hold their breath and turn blue. FETV would be sorry! You just wait!!
I guess I’d better buckle my safety belt for the upcoming change. More irate pots were written this morning, one month after FETV’s announcement. Jim West’s fans are still furious. Lonely ladies of autumn years sit sadly in their rockers. TV clicker in hand, they stare at an empty TV screen, awaiting the Second Coming of Robert Conrad. They sigh all afternoon, yearning for a glimpse of his forever firm behind encased in leather. Facebook outrage never expires. If the umpteenth rerun of The Lone Ranger, Tombstone Territory, and Perry Mason should go dark in September, the channel’s Facebook page will simply explode with outrage. FETV viewers are a veritable powder keg of passion. If Programming leases the wrong shows, good heavens, the world may tip off its axis from drama.
For those interested, FETV is available in select cable markets. It’s also available through Sling streaming service. Though some programs have been on for at least 5 years, they are updating the lineup on a seasonal basis. It’s a great channel for hard to find old favorites not currently airing on MeTV, Cozy, and other classic channels. Do give it a try.