Deals may be more sexy than shows

The shows the syndicators turn out for next year could be far less interesting than the deals they have to cut to make them. That’s because after next season, the financial interest and syndication rules are expected to go away, opening the door for the Big Three networks to grab an ownership stake in the series they license.

* NBC is mulling the purchase of both Multimedia Entertainment and King World, but is still a few months away from deciding. NBC O& O president John Rohrbeck says his network is developing a couple of projects internally, including one possible access entrant reportedly called “Good News.” The group is also “willing to consider some backend profit participation” in new shows that need the Peacock group to get launched, he notes.

* CBS is aligned in a relationship with Group W which, despite a rocky start, appears to have early fringe O& O commitments this fall for the magazine series “Day & Date,” now cleared in about 56% of the country. The Eye web also has long-term commitments to Paramount’s “Entertainment Tonight” and “Hard Copy” in access.

* CapCities/ABC-owned stations have long-term commitments to the King World trio of “Wheel of Fortune,” “Jeopardy!” and “Oprah Winfrey,” as well as Buena Vista TV’s “Regis & Kathie Lee.” But ABC TV Stations president Larry Pollock says the Alphabet web is willing to “talk to anyone who comes to us with ideas.”

Although many of the network’s owned stations have long-term commitments to movie packages to run after “Nightline,” Pollock notes that ABC now counts 10 stations among its O& Os after acquisitions in Toledo, Ohio, and Flint, Mich. And he indicates the network could eventually acquire more outlets in need of latenight programming.

Daytime and weekend latenight slots – particularly shows that could compete against the critically bruised “Saturday Night Live”- are also a possibility, Pollock says.

And he would not rule out ABC taking a full or complete interest in a firstrun series and selling it to another web – along the line of what ABC Prods, has done in primetime.

* The other big alliance belongs to the Fox and New World stations, which combined provide 42% of the country as a launch base. Sources say Fox’s Twentieth TV unit is concentrating its syndie development slate in latenight, which would be earmarked for either a January or September ’96 start. Twentieth has a news magazine described as a “young ‘Nightline,'” an “FX breakfast show at night” and four or five soaps in the sexy “Melrose Place” genre on its plate.

New World is apparently waiting to see what Fox will do in latenight, so it can deliver a companion series to follow the Twentieth project. It appears to be looking at the talk, serial and newsmag areas for latenight, as well as MTV-style game and relationship shows for testing this summer.

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