Fox syndies ‘Simpsons’ to O&O’s

Fox’s syndication wing Twentieth TV has sold animated hit “The Simpsons” to the Fox owned-and-operated TV stations, essentially transferring money from one part of the company to another. The off-net “Simpsons” will premiere during fall 1994.

Terms weren’t disclosed, other than a statement maintaining that the sale marks “the largest programming deal” in the history of the Fox Television Stations.

Then again, both the stations and Twentieth TV are part of Fox Inc., which will now begin selling the show in other markets and wants to give it momentum going into that launch.

The seven Fox stations cover more than 20% of the United States, with outlets in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, D.C., Dallas, Houston and Salt Lake City.

In a statement, Fox stations exec VP-chief operating officer Mitchell Stern called the series “the signature show” of Fox Broadcasting Co. and “aprogram we felt we had to have.”

The Fox stations also purchased the weblet’s other top-rated series, “Married … With Children,” from Columbia Pictures TV. Like “Married,” it’s understood “The Simpsons” is being offered on a cash-plus-barter basis, with one minute withheld for national sales.

Now in its fourth season, “The Simpsons” is the highest-rated series on Fox Broadcasting Co. and will be eligible for access placement in top 50 markets on network affiliates — an option that’s not available, due to the prime time access rule, on network series, However, despite its demographic strength, questions linger as to whether web affils would gamble on scheduling an animated show from 7-8 p.m.

The show is produced by James L. Brooks’ Gracie Films in association with Twentieth.

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