Viacom’s newsmag may face ‘Real’ hard time

Viacom’s “Real Time,” the syndicated newsmag aimed at twentysomethings and developed by MTV, may take a real long time to come to market.

Although a spokeswoman for the company says Viacom stands behind the project and has made no decision to put it on hold, company insiders say the syndicator may have to delay the skedded fall 1994 launch.

There has been interest from several stations, including one major group, but no deals yet.

“We heard from some of the people that were interested that the pilot was too ‘Entertainment Tonight’-like and not enough MTV,” says a Viacom source.

“And there are some inside the company who think it might make more sense to see if our bid for Paramount goes through. Then we’d have those stations and the Viacom group as a possible base to launch the show. It might make sense to sell it as a companion to ‘ET.’ ”

However, if the merger goes through, the “ET”/”Real Time” package might not work. Par already is selling “Hard Copy” in tandem with “ET.”

Market conditions also may play a part in the decision to put the project on hold.

With Warner Bros. getting a jump on the competition via “Entertainment News Television,” which is now cleared in more than 40% of the U.S., access slots are getting scarce.

And there are other competitors beating the bushes to clear their own newsmag projects.

As reported, Columbia has a deal with cabler E! Entertainment Television to develop an entertainment magazine show. But Col may be facing the same problems as Viacom in obtaining station commitments.

Buena Vista Television, meanwhile, is nearing a decision about whether to turn this season’s new weekly advocacy series “The Crusaders” into a strip. The national ratings for the show have been healthy, but it is an expensive and complicated series to produce on a weekly basis — let alone five or six times a week.

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