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NBC U signs on for another ‘Date’

Net also renews syndies 'Bartiromo,' 'Matthews'

NEW YORK — NBC Universal has awarded a seventh season renewal to “Blind Date,” the granddaddy of all of the weekday syndicated firstrun relationship shows.

The popularity of “Blind Date” on TV stations in national syndication prompted Spike TV to buy simultaneous latenight reruns of each of the half-hour episodes, which the network has scheduled regularly since January 2003.

NBC U also has renewed three once-a-week syndicated half-hours: “The Wall Street Journal Report With Maria Bartiromo”; “The Chris Matthews Show,” featuring a panel of news correspondents discussing the events of the week; and “The George Michael Sports Machine,” a sports highlights show that’s going into its 22nd season.

The ratings of “Blind Date” have fallen off in recent years; the series manages a season-to-date rating for 2004-05 of only a 1.2, which is 25% below the same period in 2003-04. But, despite the Nielsen softness, NBC is planning to go after better time periods (daytime instead of latenight) because so many TV stations have open time periods during the day.

The openings have cropped up because distributors have canceled a half dozen shows from 2004-05 while coming up with only two new ones for 2005-06: Warner Bros. Domestic’s “Tyra Banks Show” and NBC U’s “Martha Stewart Show.”

Hosted by Roger Lodge, “Blind Date” is a Gold Coast TV Entertainment production. Exec producers are David Garfinkle, Jay Renfroe, Thomas Klein, Rob Dames and Peter Karlin.

CNBC produces “Wall Street Journal Report”; NBC News produces the Matthews show; and WRC-TV, the NBC-owned station in Washington, D.C., does the honors for Michael’s show.

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