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Stewart library in demand

Co. close to pacting with cabler

NEW YORK — Martha Stewart Living topper Susan Lyne told investors the company is nearing a deal with “a major cable company” to air programming from the company’s library of shows.

Speaking at an investor conference in Washington, D.C., Lyne said the company’s flagship magazine, Martha Stewart Living, would see a 35% increase in ad pages for the year.

Shares in MSO surged more than 16% on Thursday to $23.98 on the New York Stock Exchange.

Stewart’s namesake company has suffered mightily since her legal problems began more than three years ago. First her magazines saw deep ad declines and then her television show, “Martha Stewart Living,” was taken off network TV, with reruns going to the Style Network.

During her legal troubles, the magazine recast itself as “Living,” de-emphasizing Stewart’s name.

But the homemaking icon is now trying to craft a comeback after serving a five-month prison sentence for lying about a suspicious stock trade.

Advertisers once leery of being associated with Stewart appear to be responding to her rehabilitated image. Company predicts pages will increase 30% in the second quarter.

Reality guru Mark Burnett signed on for a remake of Stewart’s daytime syndicated show, “Martha,” and a Stewart-led version of “The Apprentice” is being shot for a possible fall premiere.

Lyne said the cable deal would include 1,500 hours of programming from Stewart’s archives and calls for the re-airing of Stewart’s syndicated show “Martha” in the evenings.

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