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Lorimar Pulls Plug on TV Shopping Show

June 22, 1987|MARTHA GROVES | Times Staff Writer

Lorimar Telepictures has decided to pull the plug on a fledgling home-shopping program over the July 4 weekend--after six months of juggling with the entertainment format failed to boost ratings.

"We tried a number of formats," Peter Temple, senior vice president of video retailing at Lorimar, said Friday. "The problem is we were not able to do a large enough rating to meet stations' programming needs."

The one-hour, syndicated "ValueTelevision"--a venture of Lorimar, Fox Television Stations and Hanover Cos., a subsidiary of Horn & Hardart--premiered in January, running six days a week on 74 stations, including the Fox-owned Channel 11 in Los Angeles. Since then, some stations have dropped the program or moved it from prime daytime slots to late night or early morning.

"It may be that shopping does not have enough inherent appeal to compete in major (daytime slots)," Temple said.

In its first incarnation, "VTV" starred Alex Trebek, the "Jeopardy" game-show host, and actress Meredith MacRae in a format with talk, entertainment and shopping. After early ratings proved disappointing, Trebek was replaced by Richard Simmons, a health and fitness personality. Later, actress Constance Towers replaced MacRae, and a game show was added.

Nothing seemed to keep the viewers' attention, however. As a result of the cancellation, about 30 employees, primarily in production, will be laid off, Temple said.

Larry Gerbrandt, a home-shopping analyst with Paul Kagan Associates in Carmel, said: "It was the ratings that killed the show, not the home-shopping concept." He added that viewers apparently preferred a "harder sell" to the soft approach used by Lorimar but that "by the time they tried that, the damage had been done."

Gerbrandt noted that Lorimar's failure occurs as other similar ventures are starting up to try to grab some of the multibillion-dollar home-shopping market.

Last Monday, MCA launched "The Home Shopping Game" in conjunction with industry bigwig Home Shopping Network, broadcasting over four stations owned and operated by CBS, among others. And the ABC-TV network will air "Bargain Hunters," a daytime game show with a "home-shopping element," beginning on July 6.

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