All of a sudden, the bad economy comes knocking on our doors, and nobody—not most of us, at least—can’t help but give in and start tightening some belts.  Television producers are also feeling the pinch, and as ratings and advertising revenues slide, the inevitable’s got to happen: budget cuts.

20th Century Fox Television is the latest to order cuts in all production budgets, as tough economic times beckon.  This affects all of the shows produced by the banner, from established shows such as 24 and Family Guy, to newer shows such as ABC’s Life on Mars, and even to shows that have yet to air, like Dollhouse.

“In these challenging economic times, we’ve asked all of our showrunners to trim their production budgets by 2%, an assignment which they have all embraced,” a spokesman for the company said.  “Everyone understands that revenues are down and these steps are necessary to protect our business.”

Fox is only following the steps taken by its competitors as they stay afloat in these times.  ABC Studios also asked its producers to cut 2% off their shows’ budgets.  NBC Universal and CBS, on the other hand, have decided to lay off employees as a reaction to the gloomy economic climate.

But what exactly does this mean for viewers?  A budget cut such as this wouldn’t probably be noticed in the final output, with producers probably deciding to slash on-location shoots for set shoots, or to remove a guest character left and right.  You might even see product placement in some episodes, something akin to what NBC did with its quickly-cancelled drama My Own Worst Enemy.

The budget slashes constitute half an episode for a show with a standard 22-episode run.  In the case of Dollhouse, which has yet to air this February, it might even be less, considering that the show only has 13 episodes this season.  Maybe it wouldn’t be too much, but with a huge set being constructed for the series, and rumors of Joss Whedon’s planned webisodes being axed, it might really hit home soon…

-Henrik Batallones, BuddyTV Staff Columnist
Sources: TV Week, SyFy Portal
(Image courtesy of Fox)

Henrik Batallones

Staff Writer, BuddyTV