Fast Track

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The Syndication Beat

May got lustier in the second week, with most syndicated shows gaining ground in the second full week of the sweeps. (Syndication ratings are reported slowly by Nielsen.) Four of the top five rookie first-run shows were up over the first week of the sweeps period. King World's Dr. Phil was up 4% to a 4.9, while Buena Vista's Who Wants To Be a Millionaire, which had another million-dollar winner May 8, hit its highest rating yet in New York, a 5.6/14. Nationally, Millionaire
was up 7% to a 3.2. Sony's Pyramid was up 6% to a 1.9. Warner Bros.
'Celebrity Justice,
cleared mainly in late-night, was up 8% to a 1.3 tied with NBC Enterprises
'The John Walsh Show, which was unchanged.

The big winner was The Oprah Winfrey Show, which opened up its biggest lead in 12 weeks over second-place Dr. Phil. Oprah
was up 5% to a 6.3.

Warner Bros.'Friends was the top off-net sitcom, up 3% to a 6.6. Sony's Seinfeld dropped out of the top spot, down 2% to a 6.5. King World's Everybody Loves Raymond was up 3% to a 6.1.

Separately, Sony Pictures Television
has cleared its comedy King of Queens on Fox-owned KTTV(TV)
and KCOP(TV) Los Angeles, bringing the show's clearances to 98% for a Sept. 15 syndication launch. Los Angeles was the last major market in which Sony was seeking a clearance.

Noted

Long-struggling cable network TechTV
has retained an investment banker to look for partners or buyers. Greenbridge Partners' Mike Yagemann,
who has long worked on deals for TechTV owner Paul Allen, is "exploring strategic alliances" for the network, which could include an outright sale. Industry executives said that is Allen's preferred outcome is recover the $450 million he put into it. …

CBS
late last week backed off a threat to withhold high-definition programming from its 2003-04 schedule after House Commerce Committee Chairman Billy Tauzin and Telecommunications Subcommittee Chairman Fred Upton
urged the net to reconsider last year's threat to eliminate HD from its upcoming lineup unless the government implements the broadcast-flag copy-protection regime. The FCC has pledged to rule on the proceeding this fall. ...

The series finale of Buffy the Vampire Slayer scored UPN
some of its highest ratings of the season. Buffy
went off the air with a bang, winning its best ratings since last November in adults 18-49, total viewers, females 12-34 and female teens.

Condolences

C. Robert Ogren Jr., former VP of engineering and operations for LIN Television Corp., died May 18 in New Bedford, Mass. He was 59.

He joined LIN in 1990, following a stint at WBAL-TV Baltimore, where he was director of engineering. Besides WBAL-TV, he also worked at WTEV-TV Jacksonville, Fla.; WBZ-TV Boston; and WLNE(TV) New Bedford, Mass., his hometown. He also served as chairman for the local chapter of the Society of Broadcast Engineers. Ogren retired from LIN Television last December, citing health reasons.

Correction

A photo of Warner Bros. Television President Peter Roth on page 50 of the May 19 edition ran with a quote from The WB Entertainment President Jordan Levin.

TNT Gets Boomtown Reruns

NBC's Boomtown, featuring Mykelti Williamson (left), is getting a sophomore season, and syndicator NBC Enterprises has cut a repurposing deal for the Peabody Award-winning drama with TNT. The series' first season will air on TNT on Monday nights beginning May 26. TNT is said to be paying in the neighborhood of $200,000 per episode.

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