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Game renewals stir access pot

NEW ORLEANS – King World’s renewal of “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy!” on the ABC O&Os through 2002 will have ramifications for several other access shows, namely Paramount Domestic TV’s “Hard Copy.”

The CBS O&Os have made it clear they want to renew Par’s “Entertainment Tonight” but not its tabmag “Hard Copy” when the contracts expire in 1998. CBS wants Eyemark to develop an inhouse show.

While Par could threaten to take “ET” elsewhere, the King World-ABC deal makes that tough. Already, all the ABC O&Os except for those in Philadelphia and Fresno, Calif., have renewed the King World games, and they are expected to sign on later, taking ABC out of the access equation.

Fox, Tribune and Chris-Craft air sitcoms in access, and a news show is less of a good fit there. NBC owns half of its two access shows, “Extra” and “Access Hollywood,” and while those shows are not as successful as “Entertainment Tonight,” NBC would not likely take both “ET” and “Hard Copy” in 1998. Par had no comment.

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