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Fast Track - Broadcasting & Cable

Fast Track

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Off-Net Alias Goes to Fox Stations

ABC's spy thriller Aliashas found a home in broadcast syndication. Fox's 35 stations are picking up the show, which stars Jennifer Garner, in an all-barter deal for weekends in fall 2005. Buena Vista Television has also sold Aliasas a strip to TNT for around $200,000 an episode, starting in fall 2005.

A Fond Farewell for Frasier

The Frasier finale drove NBC to ratings victory on May 13 but didn't blow away the competition the way the final Friends episode did the week before. CBS gave the Peacock a run for its money. In fact, the Survivor special from 8 to 9 p.m. beat the Frasier clip show in the key demos and by more than 1 million viewers.

The final Frasier, from 9 to 10 p.m., was first across the key measurements with an average audience of 25.4 million viewers, just 3 million more than CBS's CSI. By comparison, the Friendsfinale on May 6 drew almost 51 million viewers, double the audience that tuned in to bid Frasier adieu.

A Whole New Pax

Pax TV is getting hipper. At its heavily NBC-populated upfront last week, it unveiled a fresh slate of shows aimed at "contemporary" families. NBC Vice President of Marketing Keith Turneroutlined the development strategy to "refocus on developing original product, create family-friendly programming that's not boring" and that will "widen appeal."

Its schedule includes Model Citizens, hosted by Larissa Meek (Average Joe Hawaii), in which supermodels complete community-service projects. In Cold Turkey, smokers try to "kick the habit." There's also America's Most Talented Kids!, where young ones strut their stuff without having to endure Simon Cowell's barbs. Kelsey Grammer makes comedians wing it in World Cup Comedy.

And in a sign of early synergy, Pax announced the Universal Family Movie on Saturdays. (The NBC-Universal merger became official the next day.)

Sheraton Kalouria, senior vice president of NBC Entertainment, said, "We needed to do better in order to compete in this marketplace, so we got engaged." Whether or not this is the offspring of a happy relationship remains to be seen. NBC owns a third of Pax, but the Peacock wants Pax to buy out its stake. Weird, then, that this was the most involved NBC has been in planning Pax's schedule. Pax founder Lowell "Bud" Paxson, in fact, watched the upfront show from the audience.

Fully Programmable

Court TVnotes the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education on May 17, when a historical site commemorating the Supreme Court decision is unveiled in Topeka, Kan. Besides extensive Webcasts, the network has prepared materials for high school teachers to use in discussions of the historical desegregation suit and is airing 30-second public-service spots featuring prominent African-Americans…

Comcast's newly acquired TechTVwill be merged with its videogame/lifestyle channel G4to create G4TechTV, as of May 28. It will reach 44 million subscribers. The name could change later. About 200 TechTV staffers are getting the axe; another 80 will be moved to G4's digs in Los Angeles…

Cartoonist Garry Trudeauand filmmaker Robert Altmanare teaming to update Tanner 88, their 1988 mockumentary about a losing Democratic presidential candidate. Production on the new, 90-minute limited series (three half-hour episodes) begins in June.

Corrections

NBC changed its basic affiliation contract after KTYV Springfield, Mo., refused to air a Fear Factor episode (May 3, page 54). KTYV is not affected; it had signed a new NBC deal before the revision...

In the Syndication Ratings (May 15, page 15), the genre list was the top action hours.

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