Fast Track

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Dr. Crane Ready for Cable

Now that NBC's Frasier is ending its 11-year run, Paramound Domestic Television can finally get the show a cable run and sell its second cycle to broadcast stations. Paramount sold the show's first cycle exclusively to broadcast stations in 1996 but, because of the exclusivity clause, has never been able to get it on a cable network. Now that the show is ending, Paramount is free to renew its contracts with stations and get a simultaneous cable run, beginning in March 2006. Sources say Paramount will reap between $1.3 million and $1.8 million per episode, including the cable deal.

Viacom's Tough Fourth Quarter

Viacom's broadcast unit took a big hit in the fourth quarter. A slight sales dip translated into a major profit hit. The combined CBS stations and network posted a 1% drop in revenues to $2.1 billion and a resulting 23% plunge in operating income to $241 million. The company reported higher revenue for CBS and UPN in the quarter, as well as gains for syndication powerhouses The Oprah Winfrey Show and Dr. Phil. The profit hit was due largely to lower revenue at the TV stations (because of a lack of political advertising) coupled with higher network production and programming expenses.

Viacom took a $1.3 billion charge against fourth-quarter earnings related to its 81% stake in Blockbuster, which Viacom plans to dispose of, probably in the form of a tax-free spinoff to shareholders. The cable networks posted the second-best growth: 24% to $1.6 billion, with a 19% spurt in operating income to $635 million. Ad revenues at the MTV network were up 30%.

Coming to a TV Near You

For Fox's The Simple Life 2, Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie will drive around the country in an RV. Production begins this spring;. Unscripted soap opera Forever Eden debuts March 1 and 2, following American Idol. ...

ABC has renewed longtime drama NYPD Blue for season 12, which will be its last. Creator and executive producer Steven Bochco is working on a pilot for the net. Drama Blind Justice, starring Ron Eldard, is targeted for midseason 2004-05. ...

Twentieth Television has cleared off-net sitcom Yes, Dear in almost 70% of the country, including top-three markets New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. Slated for fall launch, Yes, Dear is sold to stations on a barter-only basis with 41/2 minutes of ad time per show going to the stations and 21/2 going to Twentieth. ...

Sony Pictures Television has cleared half-hour strip Pat Croce: Moving In on the Fox duopolies in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago for fall. With these clearances, the barter-only show is a firm go for next season.

On the Move

Robin Schwartz is new president of Regency Television. Previously VP of programming at ABC Family, she succeeds Peter Aronson, now executive producer of Fox's The Bernie Mac Show. ...

Carol Marin is back at WMAQ-TV Chicago, this time as a special assignment reporter. She was an anchor/reporter there for almost two decades before a very public exit in 1997 over the station's use—brief, as it turned out—of talk-show host Jerry Springer as a commentator.

Don't Try This Again, You Guys

Turns out Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake can be fined—next time. The FCC has apparently never fined an individual for indecency, but it can. According to the Communications Act, there is a fine for nonregulated entities, including individuals, though only starting with the second offense. They must be issued a warning for the first offense, so Janet and Justin would have gotten off easy this time.

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