September 15, 2010

Walsh Wants to Take 'America's Most Wanted' Worldwide

9-15-2010 National:

Show, Web site both getting revamps

As it enters its 24th season on the air, John Walsh has big plans for America's Most Wanted, one of Fox's longest-running primetime programs.

"The Web has given us a worldwide presence," says Walsh, who wants to take that presence and franchise his show across the globe. This November, Walsh will take America's Most Wanted to Cambodia to go after international sex traffickers in a three-episode series. It's a topic the show has tackled before, partnering with international law enforcement agency Interpol to find fugitives.

"[Fox Entertainment Chairman] Peter Rice is a global thinker and going global is a natural progression for the show," says Walsh. "I think America's Most Wanted should be a show out of Hong Kong, and we've had requests to partner up with Al Jazeera to do a show out of the Middle East."

"I'm hoping that we can team up and pick someone that could do Asia's Most Wanted on News Corp.'s Star TV, for example," Walsh says.

Accomplishing a global expansion may be tricky considering that AMW just faced cost cuts and staff reductions. Budget cuts recently resulted in the closing of the show's Los Angeles bureau, and the departure of Los Angeles bureau chief Van King.

There also have been changes at the top of the show. Last fall, Lance Heflin, who had helmed the show for 20 years, quit, says Walsh. (Media Bistro's Fishbowl DC reported last month that Walsh fired Heflin.)

AP reporter and Fox News executive Steve Katz was brought on as co-executive producer, working alongside Walsh in Washington, D.C.

"I'm really trying to shake up the way we do business," says Walsh, "and as a result have eliminated some of the staff. We had to move some people on who had been there for years and needed to move on. I took a really hard look at the show and thought it was getting a little formulaic, and a little old. I want to change it and change the way we do business. Now, I'll be able to use more freelancers, and I'm looking to use new creative directors for the recreations. I also now have a bigger Web team."

Those moves have resulted in some internal complaining, which also was reported by Media Bistro. There also have been rumors that this will be the show's last season, but Walsh denies that.

"I hope it's not our last season," he says. "That's just a scurrilous rumor."

Like all long-running TV shows, America's Most Wanted ratings are down from its former heights, but the show remains number-one in its Saturday 9 p.m. time slot among adults 18-49, excluding sports, according to Fox. Fox is typically number-one on Saturday nights unless it's competing with sports. In the 2009-10 season, America's Most Wanted averaged a 1.7 rating/5 share among adults 18-49 and 5.3 million viewers.

America's Most Wanted has also had success with its Web site, both in attracting traffic and, perhaps more importantly, in catching criminals. In the week ended Aug. 28, AMW's site was the Web's second-most visited network TV show site, next to only CBS' summer hit Big Brother, which attracted nearly 23% of the market share compared to AMW's nearly 6%, according to HitWise. CBS' NCIS was the third-most visited network TV show Web site during that week, while Fox's American Idol was fourth.

America's Most Wanted's Web site has also helped law-enforcement officials capture 46 criminals, and that's without the help of the TV show, which remains a potent law-enforcement tool. During the week of May 17, 2010, America's Most Wanted caught five criminals in one week, the most the show has ever apprehended.

Walsh also is revamping the show's Web site: "I want to change the Web site and [News Corp. Chairman] Rupert [Murdoch] is a very progressive guy. I went to for help, and we've restructured the home page, and brought in an outside designer. I want to make the Web site cooler and more topical."

"We're not just an interactive Web site," says Walsh. "We save lives. We catch fugitives. We show pictures of missing kids. I'm trying to take the show in a different direction and do business a different way." ..Source.. Paige Albiniak -- Broadcasting & Cable

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"We're not just an interactive Web site," says Walsh. "We save lives. We catch fugitives."

John Walsh has ruined more lives than he can claim he saved.. Children's lives even. This guy is the reason everyone is paranoid and suspicious of each other. Why don't he just go away? He not making a difference.