Tribune May Nix Long-Time Conflict Talkers

The station group may not renew Maury, Jerry Springer and Steve Wilkos beyond 2015-16, when its current contract with syndicator NBCUniversal Domestic Television Distribution ends, according to multiple sources. Tribune airs the shows in many markets, including six of the top 10.

Paternity testing, brawling love rivals and chair-throwing exes may soon be a thing of the past at Tribune Broadcasting.

The long-time major-market home of Maury, Jerry Springer and Steve Wilkos, may not renew some or all three of the conflict talk shows beyond 2015-16, when the station group’s current contract with syndicator NBCUniversal Domestic Television Distribution ends, according to multiple sources.

And Tribune is developing one or two shows for fall 2015 to begin its migration away from conflict talk, the sources say. Neither are conflict talk, they say.

A spokesperson for Tribune would not comment on the renewal negotiations. An NBCUniversal spokesperson declined to comment.

Tribune airs the shows on many of its stations, including six in top 10 markets (WPIX New York, KTLA Los Angeles, WPHL Philadelphia, KDAF Dallas, WDCW Washington and KIAH Houston). Tribune also airs Maury on WGN Chicago.

Tribune emerged from bankruptcy protection in 2012. In January 2013, the new owners brought in one-time FX CEO Peter Liguori as its new CEO. A month later, former NBC-owned WMAQ Chicago general manager Larry Wert joined Tribune as president of its broadcasting division.


The loss of Tribune could spell trouble for NBCU’s long-running conflict franchises. Jerry debuted in broadcast syndication in 1991 and its spinoff Steve Wilkos debuted in 2007. Maury has been in broadcast syndication since 1998.

But NBCU could find other outlets for the shows in the top markets. With duopolies in many of the top markets, either CBS or Fox could step in for Tribune.

Ratings for Maury and Jerry are still respectable, but trending down.

Maury scored a 2.1 household rating in 2013-14, compared to a 2.2 last year and a 2.4 in 2011-12, based on Nielsen live-plus-seven-day ratings. Jerry has a 1.3, compared to a 1.4 last year and a 1.5 household rating in 2011-12.

 Wilkos has a 1.4, flat to last year and up from a 1.3 household rating in 2011-12.

Comments (10)

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Brian Bussey says:

July 18, 2014 at 9:02 am

they are 10 years late in getting their trailor trash daytime line up fixed.

    John Bagwell says:

    July 18, 2014 at 9:20 am

    Right, except a majority of those shows are #1 in their time periods.

    Jason Crundwell says:

    July 18, 2014 at 9:46 am

    Sadly, that’s true. But better late than never!

    Roger Lyons says:

    July 18, 2014 at 9:47 am

    You can be number one in the time period and still have trouble selling ads during the shows. Especially with the numerous problems of one of conflict talk’s largest advertisers, Corinthian Colleges.

    John Bagwell says:

    July 18, 2014 at 10:03 am

    Well, that is kind of my point. They are #1 in their time periods, but that doesn’t matter if a lot of advertisers aren’t able to buy it. There is a market out there though for advertisers who are looking to reach the audience that is watching these shows.

Kenneth Kinder says:

July 18, 2014 at 9:48 am

Doesn’t Tribune themselves produce “Bill Cunningham” – the worst “Conflict Talker” of them all?

    John Bagwell says:

    July 18, 2014 at 10:07 am

    Yes, but they own it. The question is…are they looking to get away from conflict talk all together, or are they going in a direction of of wanting to own more of the programming that is on their stations?

Teri Keene says:

July 18, 2014 at 3:26 pm

I remember when Larry Wert was named VP/GM of WMAQ back in 1998 and the first thing he did wasridding the station of Jerry Springer’s talk show. When he was named president of Tribune’s broadcasting division, I knew it would be a matter of time before the status of these “conflict” shows on the station group were addressed. I don’t think he or Ligouri are fans.

    alicia farmer says:

    July 19, 2014 at 11:13 am

    “Conflict” shows is way too kind. How about trailer trash garbage?

Linda Leavell says:

July 19, 2014 at 11:33 am

I very shocked and Disapoinitted @ Tribune not Renewed NBCU Daytime Talker. Fox or CBS will pickup Next Year!

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