Created By: wasass on May 23, 2013

Failure To Clear

List of works that experienced significant affiliate clearance issues, affecting their ratings and performance.

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This is Trivia.

Say you live in Cleveland, and every Thursday morning at 10am you watch your favorite Game Show on one of the networks. Life is good. You go on vacation to Atlantic City and expect to be able to watch your show at the same time - but go to turn the TV on...and something else entirely is airing. Furthermore, your favorite gameshow doesn't even air at all on the Atlantic City affiliate.

Congratulations, you are experienceing Failure To Clear.

Failure to Clear is a particular issue in the television world, and can affect both network shows and syndicated shows (particularly first-run programming):

- The networks offer a standard schedule of programming each day, both during daytime and primetime. However, most tv channels that air network progamming are affiliates - while it is often advantageous to air network programming, the affiliate CAN choose to air another program in place of the network feed. The affiliate may choose to air the network show at a different time (it will clear the program off-pattern), or it may not air the program at all.

- Syndicated shows rely on getting aired in the most television markets possible, particulary the largest markets (New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, etc). If a syndicator cannot get its programmed aired in these markets, or if the show is scheduled into poor timeslots, the show will likely be cancelled.

Failure to Clear is closely related to Screwed by the Network and Friday Night Death Slot; shows may be placed into slots subject to preemption and end up cancelled.

NOTE: This trope should be used for works themselves heavily affected by frequent clearance issues. It should NOT be used for one-off or atypical preemptions for sporting programs, special news reports, etc.


  • Ryan's Hope was moved to the heavily pre-empted noon timeslot in 1984 - and saw its ratings tank as a result. It was cancelled after spending five years in the soap opera ratings cellar.
  • Match Game has this in spades:
    • The 1970s version was moved to the 4pm slot after a disasterous move to the mornings - it lasted one more year before being cancelled.
    • The 1990 revival was scheduled in the 12pm slot and had major clearance issues; it was cancelled after one year.
  • Turn On experienced this mid-airing - several affiliates refused to air the rest of the program after the first commercial, leading to the show's cancellation after one episode.
  • During its first year on the air, several affiliates in conservative areas failed to clear NYPD Blue; however, this was short-lived as many of these affiliates picked the show up by its second season when its ratings proved strong and its content not quite as scandalous as advertised.

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