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Why TCM Runs The Same Films Over And Over?


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I love TCM, but I don't understand why if TCM claims to have the definative M.G.M/U.A. film library in the U.S. then why each month, do they show the same films over and over again, like "7 Brides for 7 Brothers" or " The Harvey Girls" or  "Meet Me In St. Louis". Don't get me wrong I love these films as well, but can't this channel expand to other films in their supposet vast library? How about some of these titles for a start. "Dancing Lady"(1933) Clark Gable, Joan Crawford. "The  Russians Are Coming!" (1966) Alan Arkin, Carl Reiner. Or " Riff  Raff" (1935) Jean Harlow, Spencer Tracy, and if you have the titles just to name a few, (and I could name more good titles) why do you choose to air them 3-4-5 am. in the morning usually? I don't understand also, why TCM draws for Columbia/Sony or Universal thats owns the rights to Paramount Pictures Library, and why Disney? Again, I love TCM, but maybe I should be their researcher, Because if they claim to have Every RKO, MGM, U.A. film, then they need to up their gameif the they want to be a true classic film channel and quit renting motion pictures from other motion picture archives, unless Mr. Turner told us years earlier he bought the greatest film Library ever, then sold it toTime/Warner, then where are these classic film that they claim to have, and will we ever see them? Or will this TCM become another AMC, I Hope Not  

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10 minutes ago, hamradio said:

TCM don't hold a candle to the Weather Channel and Newsmax when it comes to reruns.

Not to mention the Starz Encore western channel. You missed Major Dundee? Wait a couple of hours, or tune in tomorrow or the next day or every day for the next week.

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2 minutes ago, Thenryb said:

Not to mention the Starz Encore western channel. You missed Major Dundee? Wait a couple of hours, or tune in tomorrow or the next day or every day for the next week.

I dropped my Starz / Encore package with Directv several years ago because of this. They give free weekend previews once in a while, might see something new which is rare.

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Posted during Oscar month;  the month with the most 'repeats'.  

As for 'repeats';   They are only repeats to those that have seen them before.    One has to assume that TCM's overall programming leans more toward newbies than us 'been loving studio-era films for decades now' types.

I have the same wishes as the OP but I don't see them being granted. 

 

 

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A few points:

They certainly don't have every MGM, UA and RKO film. They can't show It's a Wonderful Life, for example, whose convoluted history I probably don't completely understand, but it was an RKO release that maybe then reverted to Frank Capra's Liberty Films, then fell into the public domain, then got bought by Comcast/NBC/Universal, who will never let anybody else show it, ever. I may not be a hundred per cent accurate on that timeline - and surely someone won't hesitate to tell me how wrong and stupid I am - but it's something like that. There are plenty of UA films they don't have. UA being a distributor for independently produced films rather than a classic movie studio, there are many films they didn't retain the rights to beyond the initial distribution. 

I tried to let another newbie know the basic parameters for what would be considered the TCM "library", which I believe I put in quotes on that thread, and another user immediately belittled me and advised me not to fool myself, because there's no such thing, that it's all about licensing agreements, which he claimed all usually last from five to seven years. Not saying this poster doesn't know more about this stuff than me. I do feel like some licensing agreements are shorter than that. There will be a Fox or Paramount or Universal movie TCM will show maybe three times in five months, and then you won't see it on TCM again for the next five years, so I don't know that all licensing agreements are as long term as he claims. Other films like North by Northwest, well, TCM must always renew its license the very day the previous one expires, because I don't know that it's ever unavailable for airing. However, I would argue there is certainly a group of films that TCM can either show for free or much less cost.

Anyway, why certain "library" films and not others? TopBilled once suggested TCM orients its programming decisions toward largely star-based material. Also, there are certain films that have largely come to be considered canonical or are maybe a little better known by the general public than others. I think TCM makes a lot of its decisions based on what they think both long-time viewers and newcomers might want to see. The films you mention just aren't as well-known as Meet Me in St. Louis, so it gets played more and usually gets the better time slot.

Your question where you mention a bunch of studios just left me lost. I don't understand what you're saying there. Are you asking why TCM shows movies from the studios at all if they're not part of the "library"? I think the answer to that is they're trying to be as comprehensive as they can. They are sort of bearing the mantle of the ultimate source of classic film, and so classic films from all studios. Someone noted on another thread that TCM was showing quite a few Columbia pictures right out of the gate, the first couple of weeks they were on the air. TCM has for its whole existence appeared to have a good business relationship with Sony. The relationship with other studios has waxed and waned. TCM used to show a lot more Paramounts (a 20-year stretch of which are owned by Universal) and Universals than they do now. On the other hand, they show way more Fox films now than they used to. And four times a year, there's a night devoted entirely to Disney programming. Yeah, Disney won't ever allow TCM to show Fantasia or Bambi, but there's some interesting stuff. Are you saying you don't want TCM to air this material?

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Same refrain heard at radio stations. I want more variety...but, still play all my favorites !

How exactly is TCM able to play the films regular viewers rarely see, and at the same time play popular films to draw new viewers ?

 

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The original TCM library was the pre 1949 WB/ pre 86 MGM/ entire RKO library. And there are exceptions to this rule, plus I may be a year off on the years shown above. There is another library confusingly called MGM/UA library that really has nothing to do with MGM production and is actually United Artists films. Rocky and Annie Hall would fall under this umbrella. TCM has never had control over these films and if they are shown, they have had to rent them out.  

At any rate, in 1996 Ted Turner sold his communications network and his film library to Warner Brothers, reuniting the two sets of WB fillms. The bad news is that TCM has had no official library since then. However, Warner Brothers owns TCM and therefore wants TCM to succeed. Thus you see more modern WB films showing up as well as the older ones. Warner Brothers also controls the Monogram/Allied Artists library, the distribution rights to almost all of the old Sam Goldwyn library, and the distribution rights to some post 1950 Paramount films.

TCM has a good working relationship with Sony, and for several years had access to the old Columbias. That agreement expired some years ago, but still Columbia films are still quite common on TCM. Fox Movie Channel decided to sell out about six years ago and show their modern films during the day and their classic films at night. What really happened is that they show their worst old films during that time and including some weird kung fu films from the 1980s. The good news is that Fox films that TCM never had access to before - Laura, The Razor's Edge, etc. - now play on TCM pretty regularly.

What will always be a rarity? The 1929-1949 Paramounts owned by Universal as well as the older Universals from the 30s and 40s. Why? Because those films have to be digitized to show on TCM. The last time any of them aired was in the VHS days on the old AMC pre 2002, and what is available now is not suitable for viewing on TCM. So you may see the odd old Universal or Paramount show up on TCM, especially if Universal or TCM has made a DVD-R available to the public for purchase, but that's about it. And a bad indication is that Universal Vault - the Universal equivalent of the Warner Archive - has not had a new release since December 2016.

Too late to make a long story short, TCM has lots of diversity for 11 months out of the year. Unfortunately you are asking your question during Oscar month, when they only play Oscar nominated films and shorts, so no B films at all show up, no odd surprises from the vault. On March 4 things should improve.

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7 minutes ago, slaytonf said:

The mistake made here is taking the o-posters seriously.  They are hit-and-run agitators.  Like dropping a cat into a dog show.

I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a message board or reddit or something where people are encouraged to “stir things up on the TCM message board” for s & g. 

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3 hours ago, GGGGerald said:

Same refrain heard at radio stations. I want more variety...but, still play all my favorites !

How exactly is TCM able to play the films regular viewers rarely see, and at the same time play popular films to draw new viewers ?

 

 

3 hours ago, Gershwin fan said:

Most other channels really are far worse at repeats than TCM is.

TCM is trying to balance the variety GGGerald talks about along with the popular films.  Oscar month attempts to draw in new viewers as not everybody has seen these movies over and over.  Many of the films shown I've seen before but will still watch them because I enjoy them so much.  I appreciate what TCM offers and I'd rather see Backlot or Wine Club commercials than those for pharma products, cars, lawyers, fast food joints, etc.  TCM shows movies commercial free and uncut.  Its positives outweigh any negatives in my opinion plus we have this wonderful dedicated community here on the Boards with so many diverse views.

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3 hours ago, HelenBaby2 said:

I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a message board or reddit or something where people are encouraged to “stir things up on the TCM message board” for s & g. 

Ah, a conspiracy.  But I don't see what they get out of it.  TCMers are so baitable, they'll bite at anything.  Can't seem like such an accomplishment to get a rise out of us.

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I assume the James Bond films fall in the MGM/UA library Calvin mentioned, since TCM never shows them (one time, when Sean Connery was SOTM, TCM showed Dr. No and Goldfinger, I think, but that may the only Bond film airings in the network's history). And possibly all the Beatles films except A Hard Day's Night, which has somehow ended up under other ownership, and TCM has shown it a few times in the past couple of years.

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7 hours ago, hamradio said:

TCM don't hold a candle to the Weather Channel and Newsmax when it comes to reruns.

...Ever get curious enough to turn on PlutoTV's app?

1 hour ago, sewhite2000 said:

I assume the James Bond films fall in the MGM/UA library Calvin mentioned, since TCM never shows them (one time, when Sean Connery was SOTM, TCM showed Dr. No and Goldfinger, I think, but that may the only Bond film airings in the network's history). And possibly all the Beatles films except A Hard Day's Night, which has somehow ended up under other ownership, and TCM has shown it a few times in the past couple of years.

Except for Hard Days Night, whose restoration fell out of Miramax and into Criterion's lap, the rest of the Beatles catalog is now safely back in Apple Corps' hands, through Capitol Records.  (Including "Let It Be", which is still locked away in Sir Paul's dungeon.)

As for the 007 movies, if you've noticed why they've shown up on Amazon Prime and other services a lot more lately, think most of the other independent MGM, UA and Orion (including Orion ownership of Cannon and American International titles) have fallen into a sort of public-domain limbo since MGM went under sometime around '10 that makes them easier for services to fish PD titles out of the same collective movie watering-hole.  Nowadays, if you're looking on streaming services--including the aforementioned PlutoTV--take a count of how many "real" theatrical movies just happen to be from MGM/UA's catalog...On how many different services can we watch "All Dogs Go to Heaven 2", "1984", "Robocop", the 70's-80's Woody Allen catalog and "Curse of the Pink Panther"??

I'm not sure if that impacts on Warner/Turner's ownership of the pre-1980 classic MGM catalog, but the channel still shows what it owns, including its new partnership with Criterion.

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1 hour ago, sewhite2000 said:

I assume the James Bond films fall in the MGM/UA library Calvin mentioned, since TCM never shows them (one time, when Sean Connery was SOTM, TCM showed Dr. No and Goldfinger, I think, but that may the only Bond film airings in the network's history). And possibly all the Beatles films except A Hard Day's Night, which has somehow ended up under other ownership, and TCM has shown it a few times in the past couple of years.

The James Bond films are in the MGM/UA library. Hard Day's Night and Help! are also. A Hard Day's Night was released on Criterion DVD, and their restoration might be the reason that it showed up on TCM. The good news is that King of Jazz will be out on Criterion DVD soon too, so we'll have a digital version of that film. The hope is that someday that will show up on TCM.

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13 hours ago, hamradio said:

I dropped my Starz / Encore package with Directv several years ago because of this. They give free weekend previews once in a while, might see something new which is rare.

I dropped Starz/Encore because they started charging a FEE for them.  

And it is puzzling, considering all the wide variety of movies suggested in another thread, that TCM couldn't  find other options besides the same movies over and over, repeated within a few days of each broadcast( think Gaslight).

Sepiatone

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I think we have a first occurring on TCM next month. The film CROSSFIRE (1947) is airing at 12:00 a.m. on March 18, then it re-airs at 10:00 a.m. on March 18. I don't ever remember the same title airing twice in the same day.

I wonder why they did this?

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14 minutes ago, TopBilled said:

I think we have a first occurring on TCM next month. The film CROSSFIRE (1947) is airing at 12:00 a.m. on March 18, then it re-airs at 10:00 a.m. on March 18. I don't ever remember the same title airing twice in the same day.

I wonder why they did this?

A few years ago the Great Dictator aired twice in the same day.

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6 minutes ago, Gershwin fan said:

A few years ago the Great Dictator aired twice in the same day.

Interesting. So apparently it happens every once in a while. Still, with all the titles available to them, it's odd. 

In the case of CROSSFIRE, the midnight airing does not even connect with the previous evening's theme which was St. Patrick's Day movies. So they could easily have put in another RKO film that fit into a 105-minute time slot.

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I believe the repeat of Crossfire is due to the scheduling of the Noir Alley series.  TCM has added an additional viewing of Noir Alley so that those who may not want to watch a noir at 7:00am Sunday morning (Pacific Coast Time) can watch it at 9:00pm Saturday night.  The upcoming March and April schedules both have the same noir feature airing on Saturday nights and repeating on Sunday morning.

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