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Good bye Nashville Network

Country Standard Time Editorial, November 2000

The Nashville Network soon will be gone and pretty much forgotten by country music fans.

That's through no fault of the fans though. Once upon a time, TNN was at the forefront of country television programming. The station started in March 1983 and eventually reached tens of millions of cable households.

The station had programs with the likes of Ralph Emery, Crook & Chase and others filling up their programming with shows that concentrated on country through concerts (like Farm Aid), interviews, videos, the Grand Ole Opry and more.

That's when TNN was a different animal, however. In recent years, TNN seemed to have almost anything except country. Gone were the country talk shows featuring fan favorites.

Instead, viewers were subjected to reruns of "Dallas" and "The Dukes of Hazzard" (okay, well at least that had a country element to it, though rather tangential) and, of course, car racing, which it actually started in 1986.

The handwriting on the wall became clear when the station was sold by Gaylord Entertainment to Viacom, which also owns Country Music Television.

And the turn away from country and Nashville became official with the recent announcement that the station would change its name to The National Network and leave Music City for the Big Apple. The apparent result will be to get rid of all country programming soon enough and go for wrestling and its ilk.

Of course, that's their full right to change programming in today's bottom-line oriented business world.

The way the station has gone in recent years, it won't be missed by country fans. The basic problem was there was scant little of it.

In areas where TNN was the only country station, let's hope that Great American Country and/or Country Music Television will fill the wide void left when their former rival threw in the towel.