‘Baywatch’ rides new wave

Skein hasn't run daily in syndication since 96-97 season

NEW YORK — The original “Baywatch” is coming back to rerun syndication after a six-year hiatus.

Litton Entertainment, the South Carolina-based TV distributor, will ask TV stations to play the 109 “Baywatch” hours twice a day beginning in fall 2007.

Stations would pay no cash for the episodes, instead giving Litton seven minutes an hour to sell to national advertisers. The stations would keep seven minutes for local sale.

Litton would also reserve the right to hook a cable network into taking two daily runs of “Baywatch” simultaneous with its play on TV stations. The cable deal would be the same: No cash, but seven minutes to Litton. The distributor wants three-year commitments from TV and cable.

Tim Voit, executive VP of Litton, said the series is not dated because bathing suits, jet skis and helicopters haven’t changed all that much since “Baywatch” ended production in summer 2001.

“A beach is still a beach,” Voit said. “And David Hasselhoff, Pamela Anderson and Carmen Electra are all still in the public eye.”

“Baywatch” hasn’t run as a daily show in syndication since the 1996-97 season, Voit said, making it “pretty well-rested.” From 1997-2001, it was a weekly show.

TV stations could also simultaneously play the “Baywatch” runs on the digital tiers some have begun to program.

Voit said if the runs on syndication and cable add up to a 1.5 rating average each day, Litton will be able to cover the residuals and make a profit from the advertisers who buy the seven commercial minutes in each run.

The best time period for the show, Voit said, would be between 3 and 6 p.m. He added that the show has never run afoul of the religious right or other family groups, despite the profusion of bodacious women in revealing swimwear.

“It was lollipop sex,” he said. “Even when it was steamy, it was innocent. And nobody ever really complained.”

Litton’s partner in the distribution of “Baywatch” is FremantleMedia North America, the owner of the series.

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