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DreamWorks spinning ‘City’s’ off-net rights

DreamWorks is starting to spin sales pitches to the TV station community for the off-network rights to its ABC sitcom “Spin City.”

In keeping with its mantra of being a “virtual studio” with no distribution infrastructure, DreamWorks is understood to be looking to sell the rights to the Michael J. Fox vehicle to a major station group with the wherewithal to handle national distribution.

Logical candidates fitting that criteria would include the Fox, Tribune, Paramount and ABC station groups. “Spin City” is expected to make its syndie bow in fall 2000.

DreamWorks syndication chief Bob Jacquemin, who declined to comment Friday, is said to have had conversations in recent weeks with Fox, Disney-ABC and Tribune. Sources say potential distributors have balked at DreamWorks’ hefty asking price of $3 million per episode for the distribution rights to the show.

However, the $3 million pricetag is said to include both broadcast and cable rights, plus the distributor would profit from sales to stations outside of its own group. That flexibility could make the offer more attractive to a vertically integrated player like Fox, Disney or Warner Bros., given WB’s ties to the program-hungry Turner basic cablers TNT and TBS.

“Spin City” had a promising freshman year last season, thanks in part to its plum timeslot behind ABC’s top comedy, “Home Improvement.” It has bounced around ABC’s primetime sked this season, most recently airing Wednesdays at 8 p.m. For the season to date, Nielsen says “Spin City” is averaging a 9.3 household rating and 15 share and a 5.9/17 in the key demographic group of adults 18-49.

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