WBTV sells reruns of ‘Watch’ to A&E

Cabler wants successor to 'Law'

NEW YORK — Warner Bros. Domestic TV has sold reruns of the NBC series “Third Watch” to A&E for $700,000 an episode.

The cabler paid an aggressive price for “Third Watch” because it’s looking for a successor to “Law & Order” reruns. TNT has bought the rights to “Law & Order” and will take exclusive title to all of the episodes — not just the last three years’ worth — in September 2002. Warner Bros. and A&E declined to comment on the “Third Watch” deal.

To help A&E competitively, sources say Warner Bros. has agreed to make “Third Watch” available to the network next September, after only its third year on NBC.

Show would seamlessly replace “Law & Order” in A&E’s lineup. That’s a concession by Warner Bros., as the typical rerun deal gives a network four years of exclusivity before the repeats can start running on a cable net or in syndication.

Contract gives A&E the right to run the series in multiple plays at least five times a week through a full eight years of telecasts, if NBC keeps renewing it for that duration.

NBC has placed “Third Watch” in a tough time period for its third season, Monday at 9, where it goes up against ABC’s “Monday Night Football,” CBS’ “Everybody Loves Raymond” and “Becker” and Fox’s “Ally McBeal.”

But because “Third Watch” is under the aegis of John Wells, who also co-exec produces two other NBC hits, “ER” and “The West Wing,” A&E’s hope is that NBC would give “Third Watch” a less competitive time period if the show starts suffering in the Nielsens Monday at 9.

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