Syndies ante up for firstrun hours' fall launch in Gotham

NEW ORLEANS — WWOR, the Chris-Craft United TV station in New York, stands to pocket more than $4.5 million in cash payments from distributors of four firstrun series that need the Gotham clearance to help guarantee their launch in the fall of 1997.

The four are Rysher Entertainment’s “Soldier of Fortune,” Paramount’s “Wild Things,” Western Intl.’s “Conan the Adventurer” and All American’s “Arthel & Fred.”

Such cash payments by syndicators to stations are not new, but they are rarely discussed openly. The deals are surfacing in more conversations because the balance of power in the industry has now shifted in favor of several massive TV station groups.

That’s the word from various syndicator and station sources Tuesday on the NATPE convention floor. They said that if WWOR were eager to pick up the four shows on their own merits, the distributors wouldn’t have had to pay the station any cash for their clearance.

In addition to the cash payments, WWOR will receive half of the commercial time within each run, which is the standard barter deal for shows of this kind.

WWOR sets its price tag for weekly hours like “Soldier,” “Wild Things” and “Conan” at $20,000 a week, or $1.04 million for the full year, sources said. That price can go higher if the distributor wants a choice time period such as Saturday at 7 p.m. For a five-a-week hour like “Arthel & Fred,” the payment by the distributor is much higher, about $30,000 a week, or $1.56 million for the year.

One insider, who requested anonymity, said WWOR collects more syndicator cash payments than any other New York station because it gets the weakest ratings of the six VHF commercial TV stations in the market. “When a syndicator calls on WWOR, the station knows it’s in the driver’s seat,” this source said. “WWOR is often the last call for a syndicator that knows it has to get New York because the city represents more than 7% of the country and many of the major ad agencies are based there.”

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