By BroadCasting & Cable Staff -- Broadcasting & Cable, 1/21/2001 7:00:00 PM
25 stations/35.35% of U.S.
We may have some holes to fill here and there, but as far as the amount of product, we're in pretty decent shape," says Frank Cicha, vice president of programming for the Fox owned-and-operated TV stations. "We may need to tinker with our schedules a little bit; if we need to shift we will."
Fox was waiting to get a look at the November ratings before acquiring any new offerings, according to Cicha. "We have done no deals on new product with anyone at this point. It's still very early for us until we see the November books," he notes.
Furthermore, Cicha says he would rather use double runs of programs Fox has licensed than go out and pay cash for anything new now because the economics of the business are tough. "I'd rather get added value out of something we already own given what the track record is for new first-run in daytime these days," he says. "It's been very bleak."
Fox stations have been looking "very solid" in access and early fringe, notes Cicha. "Our sitcom section- The Simpsons, Seinfeld, and Drew Carey- is performing very well, " he adds. And in early fringe, some of the Fox stations carry Judge Judy before the news, which has also "worked well."
The group's comedy lineup will remain strong, says Cicha. "I think comedy-wise were just fine for fall 2001." Fox will air Just Shoot Me in two markets and King of the Hill will run on all the Fox stations.
And a second cycle of Seinfeld starts this April. "We renewed Seinfeld where we had it and added half a dozen markets, including New York. That's going to be very helpful in late fringe in a lot of these places."
Fox is also happy with its investment in the court-show genre. "The court shows have performed well for us. Divorce Court looked good again," he says. " Power of Attorney is certainly very serviceable in our court block. In early fringe, Judge Judy performed well. We're happy. I don't know that we need any more court than what we have."
Judge Hatchett runs in 15 markets. Fox put the show on during access in Detroit and Atlanta, says Cicha. "We took a chance and it performed very well for us."
Weekends are covered with VIP, Stargate-SGI and the X-Files, along with sixth and seventh runs of sitcoms. Plus, the group is adding Buffy, the Vampire Slayer.
A wild card is that News Corp., Fox's parent, is slated to acquire Chris-Craft Industries' 10 TV stations in a deal that is now worth $4.5 billion. But the deal hasn't passed the regulatory hurdles yet. Assuming it does, Chris-Craft, once the half-owner of UPN, will create a duopoly for Fox in New York, Los Angeles, Phoenix and Salt Lake City. But News Corp. doesn't own Chris-Craft, so Fox won't be buying programming Chris-Craft stations at this point.
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