Sony, Tribune Team For First-Run

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The 26 Tribune TV stations, the broadcaster’s syndication arm, Tribune Entertainment, and Sony Pictures Television have agreed to develop and produce first-run syndicated programs, with the co-venture working on developing a daytime program for the Tribune group starting in fall 2006.

The agreement serves two purposes: It 1) gives a studio like Sony access to a station group without actually owning one and 2) Tribune the ability to share in the upside of a successful first-run project.

It is strikingly similar to an earlier agreement Tribune entered into with Universal prior to its acquisition by NBC.

That venture resulted in Home Delivery, which was canceled after a few months earlier this season by NBC Universal.

An announcement outlining the deal gave no details of Tribune Entertainment’s involvement in the co-venture, but the last time out it sold the national barter time for Home Delivery.

“This agreement reflects our strategy of partnering with programmers to develop and produce projects specifically for Tribune television stations,” said Pat Mullen, Tribune Broadcasting president.

Added John Weiser, president, distribution, SPT,  “We recognize that in this vertically-integrated marketplace, succeeding in syndication requires a collaborative, targeted approach that meets the needs of stations. We’re excited about this opportunity with Tribune, which is a perfect example of this strategy.”

The deal will also give Sony’s development a big lift as it enters into its fall 2006 development season, according to Melanie Chilek, senior vice president, development and syndicated programming, for SPT.“Knowing we have a launch group for our upcoming development is a tremendous leg up for us this season. Together with our partners at Tribune, we will be aggressively out in the creative community.”

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