ABC to delay Sat. block

ABC won’t premiere the lion’s share of its Saturday lineup until just before the November sweeps, relying on prime time sports and TV movies through late October.

The web reportedly wants to jointly introduce its 8-10 p.m. block, composed of sitcoms “George” and “Where I Live” as well as ABC Prods.’

“Paula Poundstone” variety show, which was sold without a pilot and is still taking shape.

The two comedies (from Disney and Columbia, respectively) aren’t expected to begin production until late August at the earliest.

All the webs will be looking at staggered premieres as a means to generate program sampling in the face of three-dozen new series premiering on the Big Three and Fox Broadcasting Co. this fall.

Two other new shows, the news magazines “Eye to Eye With Connie Chung” and Fox’s “FrontPage,” have already joined their respective lineups as summer fare.

Fox has said that it will offer premieres of several of its series starting in mid-August, as it has done in the past. CBS also traditionally delays the arrival of a handful of shows until after the World Series in October.

The late preem of the ABC Saturday shows (10 p.m. entry “The Commish” will probably begin airing closer to the start of the season in September) will afford the network more opportunity to promote the programs as a block in a somewhat less congested environment. ABC has slated 11 new series to premiere in the fall.

The only potential pitfall for the web is that the alternative programming (which may include some prime time college football in addition to movies) may free up some female viewers to sample new NBC Saturday-night shows “The Mommies” and “Cafe Americain,” which will air from 8-9 p.m. leading into established sitcoms “Empty Nest” and “Nurses.”

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