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WB axes syndie duo

In a flurry of cancellation announcements, Warner Bros. has confirmed that it will pull the plug on the low-rated syndicated “Jane Whitney Show” in mid-January and the long-running series “Love Connection” at the end of the season.

And Buena Vista Television has notified stations the countdown will stop on “Countdown at the Neon Armadillo”– its new weekly country music series — in mid-December.

WB senior VP of sales Scott Carlin called the decision to ax “Whitney,” which was launched as a slow rollout strip in spring 1992 and went into full national syndication last January, “one of the most frustrating experiences ever.”

Carlin blamed the move, which had been widely anticipated (Daily Variety, Nov. 4), on a lack of advertiser support.

With 60% of the program’s clearances in latenight slots (where it performed best) and 40% in daytime slots, he said “advertisers couldn’t get a handle on it.”

The syndicator explored a variety of cable and network options for the program, reportedly including a berth on NBC’s daytime sked. Carlin declined to comment on a potential Peacock habitat for “Whitney,” but said there could be a broadcast or cable deal in place within the next few weeks.

One basic cabler has already bowed out of the running, with Lifetime taking a pass.

WB is also ceasing production on “Love Connection” after 11 seasons, following the course it took last year with its other strip franchise, “People’s Court.”

In both cases, the syndicator believes it can make more money by selling reruns than with continued firstrun editions.

The reruns will be sold on an all-barter basis as opposed to the cash-plus-barter arrangement for the originals.

Ratings for “Love Connection” have been on the decline, sinking from a 5.3 Nielsen national mark in the 1991-92 season to a 4.2 in ’92-93. It has been averaging a 3 rating this season, with its strongest demographics among women 18 -49.

BVTV, meanwhile, sent out a letter Monday notifying stations that it is canceling “Countdown” next month. The program was not performing well in the major markets and last week fell in the national ratings.

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