Fox Television Stations Prods.’ “Busted,” which Twentieth TV had high hopes of syndicating following a test run on Fox-owned KTTV, will be yanked from its 5: 30 p.m. slot Friday after a month and replaced next week by “I Love Lucy” reruns.

Although the cancellation spells an end to the strip’s hopes of becoming Twentieth’s next firstrun entry, “Busted” could be headed for basic cable.

Despite low household ratings for the comedy gameshow, which features best friends trying to frazzle one another with embarrassing stories, “Busted” has done well with kids, teens and young adults.

Those are key demos of cable’s USA Network, MTV and Nickelodeon, any of which could wind up licensing the series.

“Busted” has gone on a production hiatus, but will continue to recruit contestants in order to start up quickly if an agreement is reached with another outlet.

Should a deal be concluded with one of the other young-skewing cable webs, “Busted” would become the first FTS Prods. show to go to cable.

Since the Fox production arm was launched in 1987, its projects (including “America’s Most Wanted,””Cops,””Studs” and the defunct rap show “Pump It Up!”) have gone onto Fox Broadcasting Co. or into syndication via Twentieth.

The unit has previously stated its intent to enter into a cable deal, but so far has avoided the medium.

Since “Busted” premiered Oct. 12 on KTTV, it has been unable to draw a broad audience.

The program, which has shown some growth over the past three weeks, has averaged a 3.6 rating/7 share in Nielsen and a 3.8/7 in Arbitron–too low during the competitive November sweeps period.

In terms of demos, however, “Busted” averaged a competitive 7 rating in the 12-17 age group during the October book, compared to a 9 rating for KTLA’s “Saved By the Bell” and a 4 rating for KCOP’s “A Different World.”

Among the four indies, the show also finished first in its time period among kids 2-11 and second among kids 6-11, teens and young adults in the 18-24 range.

FTS Prods had sought the 5:30 p.m. time period on KTTV to test the show’s appeal to younger audiences.

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