question of the day: What’s the most dramatic thing broadcast TV networks could do to shake things up?

The New York Times this morning is running an article about how terrified everyone is about the poor prospects of the upcoming broadcast television season, which doesn’t begin till September but planning for which is all but done now:

Each May, the big broadcast television networks invite advertisers, agency executives and affiliates to peek at their schedules for the coming season. But the awful economy threatens to spoil the party before it begins on Monday.

The recession has suppressed demand for commercial time during the shows the networks are planning for the 2009-10 season, which starts in September. That is particularly true for crucial advertising categories like automotive, retail and financial services.

As a result, the broadcasters are making some startling moves in hopes of shaking up the market, most notably a decision by NBC to replace traditional fare at 10 p.m. on weeknights with a comedy talk show hosted by Jay Leno.

But the only other “startling move” mentioned in the article is this:

CBS has been more successful than ABC in developing a popular lineup of 10 p.m. series. CBS is expected to shore up the time period with even stronger shows in its 2009-10 schedule; the network has been experimenting this spring by giving 9 p.m. hits like “The Mentalist” trial runs at 10 p.m.

Wow. Moving a show an hour earlier? I wonder how many programming geniuses it took to come up with that one.

What does TV need to do to survive in this new environment of not only declining ad revenues but the fracturing media landscape? Surely there must be things they can do beyond juggling the same old shows around the same old schedule over the course of the same old TV season?

What’s the most dramatic thing broadcast TV networks could do to shake things up?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me.)

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