Soap opera fans are turning to ABC's affiliate stations in their campaign to save the cancelled "One Life to Live" and "All My Children."
In a letter Monday to affiliates attending the network's affiliate meeting in Pasadena this week, the group Soap Fans United accused ABC president of daytime Brian Frons of "taking apart a decades old tradition that can be updated and monetized and has built in brand recognition and viewer loyalty."
The group, made up of fans who met on Twitter, also urged soap fans to complain to their local ABC stations Monday about the cancellations. Members of the group demonstrated outside of ABC's upfront presentation to advertisers last week in New York.
In its letter Monday, the group cited an interview with TheWrap in which Frons said there was no chance of saving either show, and that of the remaining soaps on the air, "the strongest will survive." He said ABC's "General Hospital" was safe.
"Disney is supposed to be about synergy," the letter says. "Where is the Disney synergy with ABC daytime? Why put on two unproven shows and take a risk with Oprah Winfrey & Regis Philbin departing your station? Many of you are putting in an extra hour of news in place of 'Oprah' but without a solid daytime lead in, the ratings are going to free fall with a domino effect from your newscasts to early prime to primetime to late local news and even late-night."
The cause may be lost: Bill Hoffman, the ABC Affiliates Board chairman and the general manager of the network's Atlanta affiliate, is ready to let the soaps go. The fans' letter is addressed to him and other affiliates.
In an interview last month with the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Hoffman said that while he appreciated soap fans' loyalty, he believed the audience was aging and shrinking. He said he planned to run the shows ABC is offering instead of the soaps, "The Revolution" and "The Chew."
ABC had no immediate comment Monday on the group reaching out to its affiliates.