Syndicators Announce Deals at NATPE


As the National Association of Television Programming Executives convention wound down, several syndicators had deals to announce, while the fate of many shows remained unclear.

Warner Bros. was pitching two new talk shows to stations: one with radio commentator Larry Elder, the other with Steve Harvey, star of radio, network prime time and films. Sources say Warner Bros. is pitching Elder to take the place of King World’s Living It Up! With Ali & Jack on the CBS owned-and-operated stations, but King World says it has no intention of taking the show off the air.

Stations signed two-year contracts with time-period locks for Living It Up!. The show has been downgraded to late night in two markets: on Post-Newsweek stations in Houston and San Antonio.

Harvey is a possibility on the Tribune stations, sources say, although that group still hasn’t made a decision on The Sharon Osbourne Show. Observers said the fact that Warner Bros. is pitching Harvey suggests that Osbourne is unlikely to come back: Warner Bros. is trying another option to keep the Tribune time slot.

For its part, Tribune picked up Universal’s Home Delivery before NATPE, and Universal is leaving the show with more than 70% of the country cleared. Universal also has placed the show in 27 of the top 30 markets and on stations in the LIN, Cox, Raycom, Gannett, Scripps Howard and Sinclair groups.

Universal announced no clearances for its other first-run project, the still-untitled strip to be executive-produced by Jennifer Lopez, but the syndicator says it still plans to move forward with the show.

At press time, Sony Pictures Television had no clearances to announce for either Pat Croce: Moving In or Life & Style. Sources say a deal for Croce is imminent, while the fate of Life & Style is less clear.

NBC Enterprises added several clearances to Starting Over’s second-year renewal, upping its coverage to 55% of the country so far. Besides the NBC owned-and-operated stations, Starting Over is cleared on Hearst-Argyle and Gannett, NBC’s station partners on the show, as well as on some Raycom and other stations.

NBC also has cleared The Jane Pauley Show in 95% of the country, in 48 of the top 50 markets, and 94 of the top 100 markets.

Paramount Domestic Television did a good deal of business at NATPE, clearing weekly show Unexplained Mysteries for a second year in 80% of the country, including the Viacom station group. Paramount also has cleared weekly movie-review show Hot Ticket in more than 80% of the U.S. for its fourth season.

Paramount’s biggest project, The Insider, is now at 90% of the U.S., and the syndicator’s off-net offering, Girlfriends, is cleared in 70% of the U.S. for a fall launch. Paramount also is readying UPN’s One on One for fall 2005.

Paramount has cleared The Montel Williams Show, which continues to perform solidly, in more than 90% of the U.S. for the show’s 14th season.


Syndication and NATPE

The first-run syndication business is broken. Stations blame syndicators for ignoring their needs. Syndicators stay stations won't invest in their shows. As talk shows tank, studios turn to cheaper game and court shows. With January's NATPE confab just around the corner, can the system be fixed?