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PBS to Show 'West' Twice Each Night

September 13, 1996|JUDITH MICHAELSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Worried that you can't get to the TV set at 8 every night for "The West"? Doubtful that you'll remember--and remember how--to set your VCR to tape it?

Not to worry: PBS is making it easier for you to watch the 12 1/2-hour centerpiece of its fall season. The noncommercial network is airing each episode twice a night, back to back.

It's the first time PBS has tried this with a series.

" 'The West' seemed like a natural," explained John Wilson, senior director of program scheduling and editorial management at PBS. "One, it is the kickoff to the fall season--our biggest and best effort as we launch the schedule. And it just seemed to make sense, with the concentrated promotion effort around it, to take best advantage of the rising tide. . . . We just wanted to create as big a footprint with 'The West' in the schedule as we could."

Each of the first seven episodes--Sept. 15-19 and Sept. 22-23--will air from 8 to 9:30 p.m. on KCET-TV Channel 28, then will be repeated from 9:30 to 11 p.m. The final segment on Sept. 24 will run 8-10 p.m, then 10 p.m.-midnight.

Asked whether this indicated that PBS did not have enough top-flight programs to air as its new season debuts, Wilson replied easily: "Now you might say that; I never would. Because we have limited resources in terms of promotion, even if we had a terrific, top-flight, A-grade program," it would have been eclipsed by promotion for "The West." "So [we] thought, 'Why not take "The West" and play it again?' "

Burns, of course, has quite a track record. His 1990 "Civil War" series had an average national rating of 8.8, while "Baseball" in 1994 drew a 5.5. PBS generally draws in the low 2s.

If the same-day repeats work for "The West," PBS intends to employ the scheduling tactic again.

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