On the strength of deals with CBS-owned TV stations in New York, Chicago and Philadelphia, King World says it’s giving “a firm go” to its syndicated reality magazine series “American Journal” for the 1993-94 season.

It’s rare for the pilot of a syndicated strip to get a launch one full year in advance of its air date. No other pilots making the station rounds are even close as of now. But sources point to the disappointment of many stations with shows that have premiered this season and the continuing love affair with reality programming.

Johnathan Rodgers, president of the CBS O&Os, says he made the fast decision to buy “Journal””to protect ourselves from the competitors across the street.” He points to the lock the ABC O&Os have on King World’s three big hits, “Wheel of Fortune,””Jeopardy!” and “Oprah,” and the output deal that gives the NBC O&Os the rights to Multimedia’s hourlong talkers “Donahue,””Sally Jessy Raphael” and “The Jerry Springer Show,” as well as future gabfests from its talk factory.

The commitment by the CBS stations WCBS New York, WBBM Chicago and WCAU Philadelphia pulls the clearance rate of “Journal” up to 32% of the U.S., including six of the top 10 markets.

A number of the stations buying also carry the company’s “Inside Edition” and “are planning to run the two shows in tandem,” he continued, with “Inside” leading into “Journal.”

Michael King, president and CEO of King World, declines to talk about production costs, but says “Journal” will be at least as expensive as “Inside” because it’ll be doing a lot more on-scene taping of breaking news stories. Sources say “Inside” costs about $ 400,000 a week to produce.

Rodgers discounted rumors that the “Journal” deal is a hedge against the possible continuing decline of Carsey-Werner’s “You Bet Your Life.”

Other stations buying “Journal” (whose host will be Nancy Glass, senior correspondent for “Inside”) include KCAL L.A., WFAA Dallas, KHOU Houston, KING Seattle, WTSP Tampa, KSDK St. Louis and KXTV Sacramento.

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