‘Friends’ yuks, Canuck bucks

Hit NBC sitcom “Friends” has been sold into syndication — in Canada.

A deal recently was struck between distribber Warner Bros. Intl. Television Distribution and Toronto-based CHUM TV for the English-language national rights to the reruns.

“It was the highest price we’ve received for a sitcom in syndication in that territory,” WBITD president Jeffrey Schlesinger said in unveiling the deal Wednesday.

Schlesinger added that syndication of series reruns in Canada follows the same structure and duration as such deals Stateside.

“Friends” will be stripped on CHUM TV’s hip, young-skewing TV station Citytv in Toronto, most likely in early fringe or leading in to its 8 p.m. movie. CHUM has acquired the rights to syndicate the reruns either to its own affiliates or to other indie stations in cities throughout Canada.

Sources say that Stateside, the “Friends” reruns will bring in as much as $4 million per episode, beginning in fall ’98.

Canada’s Global TV, a commercial network, airs the firstrun episodes of “Friends” in primetime and is likely to renew that contract for the upcoming fall season during the ongoing L.A. Screenings.

Canadian TV buyers are in town this week to screen the new U.S. network series.

The “Friends” reruns deal was negotiated by Kevin Byles, VP and general manager of Canadian operations for WBITD, with Jay Switzer, VP programming for CHUM TV, who is in L.A. for the Screenings.

WBITD also has sold firstrun and rerun rights to “Friends” in the U.K. to Channel Four, and in Spain, where Canal Plus Espana will exclusively air the firstrun episodes beginning in fall.

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