Every season, twice a year, television critics have access to industry executives to ask questions about shows, the state of the industry and other exclusives to get the scoop. It’s a two to three weeks-long event that lets the networks show off shows and give exclusives, and it lets critics ask the questions from themselves and viewers to gain insight.
This time around, the executives have said that they will skip their Q&A sessions in January, according to a report by NPR’s television critic, Eric Deggans. Deggans noted that the major networks – NBC, CBS and ABC – have chosen to skip the Q&A session, most likely brought about by tough questions in the past by Deggans and others regarding race, violence and other subjects that have troubled viewers. FOX had said it was going to skip its Q&A as well, but reinstated after a backlash from critics.
“The networks say it's mostly about making the best use of their time. They want to pack press conferences in January with stars and producers from their midseason shows. But some critics are concerned the networks are ducking tough questions, especially after a fall season without big breakout hits. The executives will be available for some one-on-one interviews offstage, but it still looks like the networks are trying to shield their leaders from criticism,” said Deggans on NPR’s Morning Edition.
Deggans went on to point out that some executives aren’t shying away from criticism nor their questions and answers sessions. He pointed out FX president John Landgraf, who said he pushed to hire more female and non-white directors after seeing a story by Maureen Ryan, TV critic for Variety, writing that the network had some of the worst diversity levels in that category.
Deggans, and no doubt many other critics, hope that the networks change their minds. If not, it could set a precedent that Q&As aren’t necessary, which makes for a one-sided discussion.