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Fox Fires Its First Kid Shot

Fox Broadcasting Co.’s Saturday morning kids lineup has suffered its first ratings victim. The network has placed “Zazoo U,” from Film Roman Inc., on hiatus and replaced it with “Peter Pan & The Pirates” at 8 a.m.

Fox Children’s Network president Margaret Loesch advised affiliates of the change Jan. 21, and the move was announced by Fox Jan. 23. It was effective immediately.

Loesch told affiliates the decision was made after extensive consultation with FCN oversight committee chairman Bill Jenkins and was an effort to strengthen the Saturday schedule and cross-promote weekday programming.

“We believe this move will both enhance our overall Saturday morning performance and increase the audience awareness and support of ‘Peter Pan & The Pirates,’ ” stated Loesch. “Although ‘Zazoo U’s’ performance is improving, it nevertheless remains quite erratic.”

In fact, in the New York market, “Zazoo U” has been just a blip on the data sheets. During the November sweeps, the program garnered a .09 rating/5 share in Nielsen. In January, the program went from a .08/4 to a 1.3/6 and then back to a 1/4.

The entire Fox Saturday morning lineup has performed lower than kidvid competition from ABC, CBS and NBC.

“The whole Saturday morning lineup is not doing much,” said a Fox affiliate who requested anonymity. “They can change anything they want, it can’t get much worse. But, we have to realize that we do have formidable competition from the networks.”

“Zazoo U,” as well as other Fox animated children’s programming, has been troubled with production delays stemming from offshore animators. However, Fox vows that the replacement installments of “Peter Pan” will be originals and that the network will make original episodes available in the afternoons throughout the February sweeps.

Loesch also told affiliates that “Zazoo U” would probably be considered educational programming under soon-to-be revealed Federal Communications Commission guidelines. As a result, Fox will make the 13 half-hour episodes available to any Fox affiliate interested in continuing to air the show.

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