Oz tube double shot

Series go to both Foxtel and Ten net

SYDNEY — In a first for the Oz biz, 20th Century Fox Television Distribution has signed a long-term programming pact with free-to-air web Network Ten and paybox Foxtel.

Free TV and paybox operators have shared sports rights in the past and co-produced Aussie drama, but have never shared an entertainment programming output deal.

Deal — which starts in July 2007 — will allow each outlet to select from Fox’s firstrun series via an “agreed protocol,” whose terms they would not reveal.

After a skein bows on either Ten or Foxtel, the other may air the series at a later date.

Many skeins will bow day-and-date in Oz, which usually has to wait up to six months for U.S. shows.

Twentieth Century Fox is dissatisfied with its current deal with the Seven network because the web aired few of its firstrun skeins in primetime. It has, however, given Seven boffo shows such as “Prison Break” and “My Name Is Earl.”

Twentieth feels there are greater demographic synergies with Ten — whose target demo is people 16-39 — and Foxtel.

“As our business evolves, there will be an increasing need for studios and broadcasters to work together in crafting new ways of providing the best content to the consumer, and the arrangement we’re announcing today can serve as one of the templates for the future,” said Mark Kaner, topper of 20th Century Fox Television Distribution.

Kaner said the deal was very competitive, with rival terrestrials Seven and Nine vying for Fox’s programming.

Ten last had a studio deal with Fox from 1994-97, when it picked up “The Simpsons,” still a key plank of its younger-skewed sked.

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