8. Sinclair Broadcast Group

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55 stations/14.97% of U.S.

Sinclair Broadcast Group's syndication strategy remains unchanged. The group is far more interested in programming with a proven track record than a newly launched series.

"As a company our focus is on shows that make it to year two and year three. Shows which have a pulse. We don't really spend a lot of money rolling up behind a whole bunch of first-run projects," says Bill Butler, vice president of group programming and promotion at Sinclair.

However, Sinclair occasionally will take a chance with a new show. The group has cleared Elimidate
in 18 markets for late fringe, reports Butler. And it has acquired Iyanla
for five stations to run in morning or early fringe.

Sinclair is also continuing to invest heavily in off-net product. A number of shows are being added this fall to run in access or late fringe including King of the Hill
in 18 markets, Everybody Loves Raymond
for 13 stations and Just Shoot Me
in 19 markets.

Cosby
has been picked up in 21 markets for daytime or late fringe, says Butler. And the group is working on a deal to get The Steve Harvey Show
for at least nine stations to air in early fringe, access or late fringe.

He says Sinclair stations are not looking for much weekend product. "We are very full. We have very limited weekend time periods," adds Butler.

Although the new Sci-Fi thriller Mutant X
is being purchased for all but two Sinclair stations, Nash Bridges, The Pretender
and The Real World
are already carried. Also on weekends, Andromeda
runs in all of the group's markets.

The group remains interested in the court show format. Butler says Sinclair has a two-year deal for Judge Mathias, which runs in 18 markets. "It's doing very well. We're very happy to have it," he says.

Indeed, he believes the court show genre is healthy. "It's just a little over saturated and it will thin out. You'll end up with three shows," predicts Butler. "There's a leader. There's a second show that gets about half of that, then there's a third show that gets about half of that and then you're done. That's where we'll end up I think. But the court category is an intrinsically strong program format and will last a very long time."

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