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Are a New Rachael and the Return of Jamie Enough to Help Food Network?


Yesterday, the New York Times ran an interesting article about the current state of the Food Network. Not only has it canceled Emeril Live — Emeril himself is not leaving the network and enough new episodes have been filmed to fill 2008 — but ratings have slumped over the last year. According to the article, the network's ratings have slipped to a daytime average of 544,000 people from 580,000 a year ago. Likewise, its weekend shows have lost 15 percent of their audience, causing Food Network to pay back several advertisers.

Although they're losing out on new Emeril episodes, as well as the upcoming Mario Batali and Gwyneth Paltrow show (strange note — the article states that Food Network passed on it as it wasn't "the right fit," however Batali says he never offered them the show), the network still has media-maven Rachael Ray. There will be 60 new episodes of 30-Minute Meals, as well as a new travel show called Rachael's Vacation. They are also planning new shows from British chefs Jamie Oliver and Danny Boome and Memphis restaurateurs Gina and Pat Neely. However is this going to be enough? Currently Food Network doesn't even hold the top-rated food show on cable. That honor goes to Bravo's Top Chef.

So you tell me, is it the end of an era at Food Network, or is it capable of pulling off a comeback?

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