King World, Sony Team on Game Block

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Distributor King World and producer Sony Pictures Television (SPT), longtime partners on the top-rated syndicated shows Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!, announced they are reuniting for a new one-hour game block set to debut in fall 2007.

Details were sketchy late last week on the two 30-minute shows, although there was some industry buzz that one could be an original and another a classic game show. Harry Friedman, who for eight years has led Wheel and Jeopardy!, will develop and executive-produce them.

The companies are looking to be the first syndicators to announce projects for fall 2007. But at deadline, there was no word on whether the shows would be sold on a straight-barter or cash-plus basis, what dayparts would be targeted, or whether stations will be required to run the shows as a block or sign one- or two-year license deals.

Speculation swirled Friday that the announcement may have been rushed to beat NBC Universal to the punch with Deal or No Deal, which is considered a candidate for syndication in fall 2007(B&C, Jan 1).

The financial arrangement between King World and SPT differs from the existing one by designating them as co-producers of the new shows. And their latest deal has SPT managing all national ad sales. Currently, King World sells 30-second commercials for Wheel and Jeopardy!, while SPT handles the 10-second spots and promotions. King World will continue in its role as program distributor.

Despite a decline in game-show ratings this season, King World Chairman Roger King says he is looking for an enthusiastic response from the marketplace.

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