VH1 buys 45 episodes of ‘WKRP in Cincy’ II

VH1, the musicvideo-oriented cable network aimed at adults 25 to 49 years old, has bought its first sitcom repeat, the revamped “WKRP in Cincinnati,” which will complete its firstrun-syndication cycle this fall.

“The theme of the show, which is about radio station disk jockeys,is perfect for our audience comp,” network prexy Ed Bennet said in an interview Monday on the exhibition floor during the first day of the National Cable TV Assn. convention.

Although he declined to discuss dollar figures, Bennet said VH1 has bought the 45 half-hours of “WKRP” for an exclusive four-year window beginning this fall.

The original, which starred Howard Hesseman and Loni Anderson and ran on CBS from fall 1978 to fall 1982, is not involved in the deal.

VH1 plans to kick off the series, Bennet says, with a 24-hour marathon this September in which all 45 episodes will run in sequence (with three repeats to fill out the full day’s schedule). Following this “stunt,” the network will run the episodes nightly at 7:30 or 8.

Bennet says the “WKRP” pickup doesn’t mean VH1 is planning to start bidding for off-network sitcoms in competition with USA, TBS, Lifetime and other basic-cable networks.

But he said VH1 is looking to add more series to its wall-to-wall musicvideo lineup. He cites such firstrun offerings now on the schedule as “Fashion TV, “”Flix” and, premiering this week, the tongue-in-cheek gameshow “Rumor Has It.”