The battle for latenight time periods intensified as Columbia TriStar Television Distribution confirmed 60% clearance nationwide for the Production Services Intl.-produced comedy strip “The Newz.”

The syndie has deals with Tribune Broadcasting, Paramount, River City Communications, Renaissance Communications and Malrite Broadcasting, bringing its station list to 64 with eight of the top 10 markets covered.

Stations cleared have not said when in latenight the show will be carried. Most clearances will likely be between 10 p.m. and 1 a.m.

According to Production Services Intl., Columbia/TriStar is helping to finance production of the show and will provide PSI with a distribution advance based on a projected production budget — estimated at $ 200,000 per week.

In return for that option, Columbia has reimbursed PSI the balance (up to $ 150,000) of expenses already incurred by PSI in developing “The Newz.”

A Col/TriStar spokesperson declined comment on the numbers.

Col/TriStar, PSI said, has until April 15 to exercise its exclusive option for “The Newz.”

Col/TriStar also said its weekly action hour “Forever Knight” is cleared in 83 markets reaching 61% of the country.

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