Days after announcing a dramatic shift in its 42-year coverage of the state Legislature, Georgia Public Broadcasting officials this morning said they’re backing away from a decision to make “Prime Time Lawmakers” a twice-a-week program.
Nancy Zintak, spokeswoman for GPB, said the change has been delayed for at least a year, to allow time to move viewers to other platforms intended to fill the void.
After a first rehearsal on Tuesday, Zintak said, executives decided that the state public affairs network was moving too quickly. “We realized that, if we do this cold, we may not get the viewership we currently have,” she said.
Last year, the program averaged an estimated viewership of 11,500 Atlanta households, or 17,500 statewide.
GPB is funded through the state budget. Zintak said there was “absolutely” no pushback from the state Capitol on the change. “Prime Time Lawmakers” is geared to coverage of the annual 40-day session of the Legislature. This year’s session begins Monday.
“We hadn’t talked to the legislators yet,” she said.
One of Georgia’s longest-running public affairs programs will shift to a twice-a-week format for its 42nd season.
GPB executives say the decision has more to do with viewership than budget cuts. The problem is that “Prime Time Lawmakers” (originally called “The Lawmakers”) has aired only on days when state lawmakers meet. But the 40 days allotted to each session are spread out over four months.
“We’re trying to make it easier for the viewer to know when to expect it. If you don’t have a legislative calendar in front of you, in the past it was really hard to figure out when the show was airing,” said Robert Brienza, vice president for news and sports at GPB.
“One week it may be on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, the next week it may not be on at all. The third week, it may be on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday,” he said.
For the first week of the Legislature, “The Lawmakers” will broadcast the full week in its traditional 7 p.m. slot, Monday through Friday. But beyond that, the program will broadcast at 7 p.m. each Thursday and Friday.
Zintak said GPB will likely attempt the twice-a-week effort next year, after it has built up its Internet-related platform.
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider