Donahue, Multimedia add a year to contract

Phil Donahue has signed a one-year contract extension to continue hosting his talkshow through the 1994-95 season, making it his shortest deal yet with syndicator Multimedia Entertainment.

Many have been questioning Donahue’s long-term commitment to television’s longest-running talkshow.

He has been rumored to be eyeing a run for political office, and his ratings have been on the decline in recent sweeps.

In Nielsen’s recent national syndication barter rankings, the “Donahue” show — once a solid second behind King World’s “Oprah Winfrey Show”– has been seesawing between second and third place with another Multimedia talk powerhouse, “Sally Jessy Raphael.”

Donahue’s pact had been set to expire in August 1994. He will now continue through Aug. 31, 1995.

Neither Donahue nor Multimedia exex could be reached to discuss plans beyond ’95.

Donahue’s last contract covered calendar years 1991 and ’92, with an option to extend the contract two seasons through 1994.

Speculation rife

Prior to that, Donahue signed an eight-year deal with the syndicator in April 1982.

The shrinking duration of the contracts has intensified speculation about Donahue’s intentions.

In a statement, Multimedia chief exec J. William Grimes expressed pleasure at Donahue’s decision to re-up.

Donahue is the largest single shareholder of Multimedia, reportedly fetching $ 20 million a year from company stock, cash and other options he has received via his show.

Donahue has hosted the program since 1967, when it was introduced in Dayton, Ohio.

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