Yakker retains six-figure fees

Warner Bros.’ syndie arm is close to sealing long-term renewal agreements for “The Rosie O’Donnell Show” with ABC and NBC O&Os in key major markets.

Reps for Warner Bros. Domestic TV Distribution declined to comment on the matter, but insiders say the renewal negotiations stretching into 2002 have been hot and heavy with the execs from the Big Three O&O groups in Gotham this week.

The CBS O&Os were said to have been keenly interested in luring “Rosie O’Donnell” away from the ABC O&O in Gotham and NBC-owned outlets in Los Angeles and Chicago. But indications are that the renewals will pretty much maintain the status quo in “Rosie’s” station lineup.

Also holding steady, according to station sources, are the pricey six-figure weekly license fees that the respective O&Os pay for “Rosie O’Donnell” in the top three markets of Gotham, L.A. and Chicago.

After “Rosie” bowed as a solid hit in June 1996, Warner Bros.’ quickly inked three-year renewals with its major market “Rosie” affils for big bucks — an estimated $125,000-$150,000 per week in Gotham and L.A, although those price hikes have only recently kicked in.

This latest round of renewals covers the 2000-01 and 2001-02 seasons. With “Rosie’s” Nielsen numbers down noticeably from its peak in 1996-97, WB didn’t have the leverage to command sizable increases for the renewals.

Still, once it became clear in station circles that CBS was willing to open its checkbook to give a “Rosie” boost to the daytime lineup of its top market O&Os, the ABC and NBC O&O groups responded in kind.

“Rosie” is already carried on the CBS O&Os in Pittsburgh and Denver, which are expected to reup through 2002 soon.

In addition to Gotham, ABC carries “Rosie” on its O&Os in Philadelphia; Houston; Fresno; Raleigh, N.C.; Flint, Mich.; and Toledo, Ohio. Peacock-owned stations run “Rosie” in L.A., Chi, Washington, D.C., Miami and Birmingham, Ala.

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