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FOX RENEWS ‘PARTY OF 5’

Fox Broadcasting Co. has given the go-ahead for another year of its critically acclaimed drama “Party of Five,” which has shown ratings growth this season.

The web ordered 22 episodes of “Party of Five” for the 1997-98 season from Columbia TriStar Television. That comes as good news for the studio: Next year will be the show’s fourth, which means that Columbia TriStar Television Distribution will have a shot at selling reruns of the drama. Odds are the studio’s syndication arm will look to sell reruns to a cable network some time next year.

“Party of Five” has always been a dilemma for Fox. While the show has long been a favorite of critics, its ratings performance has not always been encouraging. Fox has stuck with the show, however, confident that sooner or later it would grow.

That patience seems to be paying off. “Party of Five” had a good February sweeps and is currently averaging a 7.2 rating and 11 share, according to Nielsen. Even more encouraging, it has shown growth over the last few weeks. This week, it posted an 8.4 rating and 13 share, and grew in the key 18-49 demos.

“This past season has seen significant growth in an increasingly competitive market,” Fox Entertainment Group president Peter Roth said.The show’s season finale airs on April 2.

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