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Fast Track - Broadcasting & Cable

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Cablevision Gives Fox News Big Hike

In its first major deal to secure rate hikes from cable operators, Fox News Channel struck a carriage agreement with Cablevision Systems that will nearly triple the network’s license fee.

Neither side would disclose the terms, but an industry source familiar with the negotiations says the deal will pay Fox News an average of more than 75¢ per subscriber monthly, up from roughly 25¢.

Fox News executives have spoken frequently about demanding $1 per sub, but even Chairman Roger Ailes has acknowledged publicly that he expected less. Wall Street analysts have said that they will be excited if Fox News fetches more than 50¢ per subscriber.

If the deals with other operators are nearly as good, the series of renewals will mean a substantial financial lift for Fox News. Even with ratings double CNN’s, the No. 1 news network’s revenues are substantially less because CNN has much better license fee deals rooted in the early 1980s.

Negotiations with Comcast, Time Warner and EchoStar will likely be very difficult because all three operators have been as eager to fight to lower programming fees as Fox News is to increase them.

John M. Higgins

'GMA’ Closes In; 'Today’ Holds Lead

NBC’s Today continued its run as the top-rated morning show last week, although ABC’s Good Morning America has been inching closer to its rival.

For the week of Oct. 9, Today averaged 5.61 million total viewers and 2.57 million viewers in the key 25-54 demographic, according to Nielsen Media Research. GMA, meanwhile, posted an average 4.75 million viewers and 2.17 million viewers 25-54. CBSEarly Show was a distant third with 2.79 million viewers and 1.11 million 25-54s.

The victory marks Today’s 566th consecutive week in first place. It was the only morning show to post year-to-year increases, NBC said.

But, in recent weeks, GMA has been closing in. During the week of Sept. 11, Meredith Vieira’s first as co-host of Today, NBC averaged 6.32 million viewers and 2.97 million 25-54s, while ABC notched 4.73 million viewers and 2.18 million in the demo. By the week of Sept. 25, Today averaged 5.59 million viewers to GMA’s 4.98 million. In the demo, ABC narrowed the gap, recording 2.22 million 25-54s to NBC’s 2.57 million.

Last week, however, Today reestablished some distance from GMA in total viewers and the demo, as GMA slipped in both total viewers and the demo from the previous week.

Allison Romano

Showtime Offers 'Sleeper’ on VOD

Showtime will offer the entire eight-episode run of its miniseries Sleeper Cell: American Terror on video-on-demand the day the first episode premieres on the pay-cable network’s linear channel. It’s a first for any TV network.

The second cycle of the show, which focuses on the war on terror since 9/11, will premiere on Showtime Dec. 10 at 9 p.m. ET. That day, all eight episodes will also be available on Showtime On Demand, before they debut on traditional Showtime on consecutive nights through Dec. 17.

The move is designed to build viewing and help cable operators market video-on-demand as an incentive for viewers to subscribe to Showtime’s premium service. Previously, Showtime has used VOD to premiere programs and movies before their premiere on the flagship.

Anne Becker

'Trek’ to the Top

The top science-fiction weekend hour in syndication is one of the oldest: Paramount Domestic Television’s digital remastering of the original Star Trek led the pack, according to the latest Nielsen weekly ratings report for the week ended Oct. 8.

Star Trek, which turned 40 last month, recorded a 1.2 rating, down a tick from 1.3 the week before, but that was in the face of stiff competition from the Major League Baseball playoffs featuring several teams with top-market rooting interest: Yankees, Mets, A’s.

Paramount returned the series to the syndication rotation after giving it a digital facelift.

Trek’s 1.2 topped Stargate: Atlantis’ 1.1, Stargate SG-1’s 1.0 and Outer Limits’ 0.4.—John Eggerton

Correction

Tom Calderone is executive VP/general manager, VH1. His title was listed incorrectly in The Schmooze (Oct. 16, p. 18).

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