CPB Office of the Ombudsman

Why So Many Reruns

Joel Kaplan

November 18, 2013

Frank J. Gomba, an avid viewer of Maryland Public Television and a fan of the Doc Martin television show that it airs, has had enough:

"Too many repeats of TV shows like Doc Martin," he writes. Please, please stop the repeats."

Zvi Shoubin, managing director of programming for Maryland Public Television, sympathizes, but explains why the network runs so many repeats:

"With the Doc Martin series there are "x" number of episodes, and we play them sequentially. But because there's a certain number there is a repeat cycle, because when you purchase the show you purchase it for number of runs in a specified number of years. So you have a definitive repeat cycle. It's sort of advertised as the cost of the program.

"However, there are enough episodes that unless you watch it every week, you're not aware of the fact of the repetition. But if you're a Doc Martin fan and you watch it every week, you will be aware of it. Most the stations program that way.

"I have other shows that have the same thing where you have a limited number of episodes and you repeat them, because the audience is there. And then the Doc Martin show on Thursday night is exceptionally successful for us, so that's why we program it that way."

Mr. Shoubin says this is not the first complaint MPT has received about repeats. He said that a syndicated series called Midsummer Murders has also generated complaints:

"There are, let's say, 58 episodes of that mystery. The syndicator only released, let's say, 16. So when you purchased it and it became successful the stations wanted more so that you wouldn't have a repeat cycle coming up sooner than it would ordinarily.

"Unfortunately, we weren't able to pick it up so we took an off year and as of the beginning of this month, we're playing the new episodes. Then we're going to take an off year until we get more new episodes, because they're too limited and people are complaining that they've seen it and it comes too fast.

Mr. Shoubin says that Doc Martin is the most popular syndicated show on PBS stations: "We play it every Thursday but it has a lot of episodes so the repetition doesn't come around as quickly as let's say, Midsummer Murders comes around.

Mr. Gomba reluctantly understands the reason for the reruns:

"I guess we are stuck with repeats," he said. "It is a shame plus the Doc Martin series is getting to be untenable with the storyline that keeps failing to bring the two lovers together.

"I will just do the next best thing. Turn the dumb channel off and watch football."

About CPB

CPB promotes the growth and development of public media in communities throughout America.

Programs & Projects

CPB awards grants to stations and independent producers to create programs and services.