International Family Entertainment, awaiting the completion of its proposed $ 68.5 million buyout of MTM parent TVS Entertainment PLC, yesterday announced the formation of a barter unit that will sell ad time for syndie shows originating on the company’s Family Channel and elsewhere.
The newly formed IFE Syndication Ad Sales will also likely handle MTM product , including the potentially lucrative upcoming off-net sitcom “Evening Shade” and the sophomore firstrun comedy “The New WKRP in Cincinnati,” if the TVS deal comes to fruition, according to Steve Lentz, VP and managing director of ad sales for the Family Channel.
MTM has been without its own barterarm, relying instead on outside firms such as Action Media to handle its product.
Aside from the sitcoms, MTM also plans launch a kids strip in the 1993-94 season featuring Brazilian star Xuxa (Daily Variety, Sept. 8).
“This unit will have the opportunity to do sales for some of their shows,” Lentz said.
IFE is also in discussions with other distributors seeking a sales arm for their programs, he noted.
The sales wing will have a presence as an exhibitor at the National Assn. of Television Program Executives confab in January, with its first two Family Channel projects probably “Rin Tin Tin K-9 Cop” and “The Adventures of the Black Stallion” with Mickey Rooney.
Both of those series will have a minimum of 65 episodes available by the time they enter off-cable syndication in fall ’93.
MTM would distribute IFE product if the deal is completed, according to Lentz.
“We plan to produce shows with advertiser participation that can be distributed in cable, syndication, homevideo and in international markets,” said Bob Dahill, national director of Syndication Ad Sales. “We also will have the technology to merge interactive television with the product.”
The new unit, which will set up offices in N.Y. and Chi, “is a logical extension of what we have been doing as a network,” Lentz said.
The Family Channel has been spending about $ 100 million a year on original shows, either as stand alone projects or in conjunction with one or two international co-production partners.
Both “Rin Tin Tin” and “Black Stallion” fall into the latter category, with the dog series shot in Paris and the horse show in New Zealand.