Lifetime has bowed out of talks with Columbia Pictures Television for a portion of the off-network future of “Designing Women,” a source said last week.

Lifetime apparently is not happy with Columbia’s indecision concerning how and when the sitcom will be distributed in its afterlife.

Early speculation had Columbia releasing the program via cable and syndication simultaneously or directly to cable in fall 1992. That uncertainty and Lifetime’s move toward creating a night of original programming by this summer led to the cable network’s backing out.

Industry sources have said that Columbia was seeking $750,000 for each half-hour episode of the series, which now has more than 100 installments in the can. Series’ success on CBS virtually ensures that one or two seasons are left in the program’s network run.

A Columbia spokesman declined to comment.

Some station reps recently indicated that the show might be offered on an all-barter basis, a first for a major off-net sitcom.

The removal of Lifetime from the race almost ensures that the program will debut as straight syndication package.

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