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Eye lathers up $475 mil, cable plot for ‘Y&R’ soap

Moonves sez sudser is 'ER' of daytime

NEW YORK — CBS will shell out nearly $475 million over five years to keep daytime powerhouse “The Young and the Restless” as part of a wide-ranging agreement that also allows Columbia TriStar Television to run same-day repeats of the sudser on its planned SoapCity cabler.

Eye’s current deal for “Y&R” expires at the end of this month. Execs from CBS and CTTV had been working feverishly for months to hammer out a new agreement, hoping to avoid a repeat of last year’s tense battle between NBC and CTTV over a renewal pact for “Days of Our Lives.”

Under terms of the agreement, CBS will pay CTTV around $1.5 million per week as an above-the-line license fee, with other costs bringing the weekly tab for the sudser to around $1.8 million per week. Industry insiders estimated the increase in the Eye’s per-week license fee to be in the mid-single digits; the overall pricetag works out to between $470 million and $480 million.

CBS Television prexy and CEO Leslie Moonves said the deal “underscores our commitment to remaining on top” in daytime. Eye has been the top-rated web in daytime for 12 years, with “Y&R” the most-watched soap for 555 consecutive weeks.

CBS has also given CTTV same-day repurposing rights to “Y&R,” allowing the studio to use the top-rated sudser as the cornerstone of its upcoming all-soaps cable channel. Eye will take a financial stake in the cabler and a planned SoapCity Web site in exchange, splitting any profits from the arrangement with affils.

“It’s the anchor to our daytime schedule,” Moonves told Daily Variety. “For my money, it’s truly the ‘ER’ of daytime.”

Jon Feltheimer, prexy of the CTTV Group and exec veepee of Sony Pictures Entertainment, characterized negotiations with CBS as “professional and relatively smooth” and said the agreement cleared the way for SoapCity’s launch next year.

“Finalizing this enables us to move our plans forward,” he said.

“As we enter the next century, SoapCity will give us the opportunity to strengthen our franchise through innovative cross-marketing and accessible day-and-date rebroadcasts.”

Slippery SoapCity

SoapCity’s main hurdle now is the competish presented by ABC’s planned all-sudser channel, skedded to launch next year with same-day repeats of all of ABC’s sudsers.

Industry insiders confirm that reps for CTTV and ABC have had conversations about merging the two planned nets, but caution that nothing concrete has come out of the talks. Cable sources said it would be unusual for Disney, parent company of ABC, to form an alliance with another company to launch a cabler.

Before making the deal with CTTV, CBS said it “consulted with its affiliate advisory board” to avoid potential protests from stations. Affil board chairman Paul Karpowicz issued a statement Friday essentially endorsing the deal.

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