CBS quickly sells 'Doctors' to stations

CBS TV Distribution is off to a fast start with the syndicated “Dr. Phil” spinoff “The Doctors” for next fall, signing TV stations in 18 of the top 20 markets.

Bill Carroll, VP and director of programming for rep firm Katz TV, chalks up the quick sales to “the pedigree of the show.” Dr. Phil McGraw’s son Jay McGraw is exec producer of “Doctors,” in which five MDs in various specialties serve as a panel of experts to answer questions sent in by viewers.

CBS TV is pitching the show as similar to ABC’s “The View,” only with doctors, two of whom will be women. The host is Dr. Travis Stork, an E.R. physician who burnished his celebrity by starring in “The Bachelor” during season eight of the ABC primetime series early in 2006.

The five doctors will show up from time to time over the next year on the “Dr. Phil” show to learn how to give articulate medical advice while being scrutinized by a studio audience in Los Angeles.

The first stations committing to “Doctors” for September are the CBS O&Os in New York (WCBS), Los Angeles (KCBS/KCAL), Philadelphia (KYW), Dallas (KTVT/KTXA) and Miami (WFOR). Other station groups aboard include Gannett, Cox, Scripps Howard, Belo, Post-Newsweek and LIN TV. The indie station WCIU Chicago has also bought the show.

Most stations will run “The Doctors” in daytime slots. CBS is harvesting cash license fees for the series and holding back 3½ minutes in each hour for sale to national advertisers. TV stations get 10 1/2 minutes to sell locally.

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