Before Michael Eisner plucked down $19 billion for Capital Cities/ABC last week, Disney’s syndication wing, Buena Vista TV, had been greatly concerned about its ability to gain time periods for firstrun shows in future years. In fact, it quickly rushed the Stephanie Miller and Danny Bonaduce talkshows onto the air this fall while shelf space is still available.
Although many of the eight ABC-owned stations are committed to programs from other syndicators until 1999, BVTV now can be assured of an outlet down the road for its product. In the near-term, the Mouse House still has opportunities available on ABC in the midnight hour following “Nightline,” although it has no time period guarantees from the network.
The timing of the ABC deal couldn’t have come at a better time for BVTV. Gotham’s WNYC is now slated to become a business and sports channel under new owners ITT and Dow Jones, wiping out a whole slew of time periods for syndie fare in the top market.
Other time periods in New York are being eaten up by New World, which already has strategic alliance commitments with NBC and Fox stations and is now looking toward Tribune.
The merger doesn’t immediately solve “The Disney Afternoon” problem (its primary station group, Tribune, is jumping to Warner Bros, fare in two years). Disney will program ABC’s Saturday morning sked, but the ABC O&Os have no room for a weekday strip.