Think It's Easy Running A Network?
(Friday, March 16) All eyes in the anime TV business will be on the Cartoon Network leading up to the first broadcast of a Sailor Moon movie. After a premature listing by their website, followed by a confirmation of an agreement, then a timeslot and finally airing the interstitials (commercials for the program) the network pulled the broadcast.
"Sailor Moon R" (the first animated feature produced from the series) was scheduled for Friday, March 16, 2001 but was pulled on Tuesday, March 13. The network and the licensor (Toei/Cloverway) had come to an agreement concerning all 3 features but there were (and are) fine points still not yet done. The Cartoon Network's programming & legal departments concurred that without a completed contract it was better to postpone the initial broadcast than to risk any legal problems later.
These events demonstrate to what lengths the Cartoon Network will go to keep its fans happy. In its eagerness to get more, premiere programming on the air, as fast as possible, the network has taken all sorts of risks beyond the normal financial concerns.
Our Industry Contact for such matters writes, "This sounds like they're having problems with the Japanese side of Cloverway (Toei) and maybe not with Cloverway itself. As with all dealings with the Japanese and with "Sailor Moon" in particular, the fine print has been especially difficult. You'll spend forever on details which will never matter but can trace their lineage back to the original agreements between Kodansha & Toei (and maybe even Naoko herself)."
So while the Cartoon Network's only concerns maybe, "We get X number of airings for X number of dollars for X amount of months/years;" Cloverway's concerns (coming via Tokyo) may include a ratings bonus structure, approval over any edits, commercial placement, timeslots, paid advertising, usage of images for promotional purposes, even the interstitials which the network started to run. Sometimes the problems between Japanese & Western deal making stem from misunderstanding the concerns (or misperceived lack of concern) between the two parties.
"The Japanese can't really tell if we've done a good or bad job with the dubbing but they can be all over you on all other issues. For example, they hate the overly airbrushed art we create for merchandising, promotional & advertising purposes but don't always know how to express it and it'll manifest into some orders from Tokyo that we can't even begin to translate,"our Contact writes. Our Contact added that the problem could be Pioneer-related (as that company produced these versions) and could have some unknown stake in their broadcast.
The Cartoon Network believes that the remaining points to be negotiated are minor and expects to broadcast all the features this year with the first one ("Sailor Moon R") hopefully in a few months. And so on behalf of all the fans, we trust that the network's legal department (which now also seems to visit these pages) trudges on and finishes their mindnumbing assignment (remembering what it was like to get home one afternoon and see a new movie with all your favorite characters)!
(The SOS hopes to have some information concerning "Sailor Stars" in a few weeks.)
Meanwhile, watching from the sidelines, an executive at a larger, rival broadcast network quipped, "This sounds like another Heidi Bowl or a Night Gallery in the making!" (Which refers to a cliffhanger football game which was interrupted [as scheduled] on NBC by the movie, "Heidi" and to a first-run episode of the Rod Serling series "Night Gallery" where the same network lost visual transmission of the climax--causing viewers to complain [and in Heidi's case, into hysteria].) The SOS doesn't think the Cartoon Network will have a transmission problem with these features but we wouldn't be surprised by whatever happens next!