Television: Time on Their Hands

Despite their air-conditioned offices and silk suits, the executives of the nation's three television networks have good reason to sweat this summer. Never before have program sales for the fall and winter season fallen so far behind schedule. At the end of last week the three networks moodily reported that a total of 16¼ hours of their prime evening time—the equivalent of five full evenings' programing for one network—was still up for sale. Value: some $65 million.

The networks' plight is bad, and has probably got worse in recent weeks. Nervous sponsors have canceled traditional programs or shifted their ad budgets to...

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