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Saban trims syndie arm

Scales down domestic operation

Driving another nail in the coffin of the syndie kidvid market, Saban Entertainment is scaling down its domestic syndication operation now that all its kidvid fare is earmarked for the Fox Kids Network and the Fox Family Channel cabler.

Saban officials say the domestic distribution arm will continue to handle syndication of the company’s movie packages and longform TV projects.

Executive VP Peter Schmid will remain head of the division and add cable sales to his responsibilities.

Saban Entertainment had been the leading volume supplier of syndie kidvid fare in recent years, but the company is now focused on building up its Fox Kids Worldwide joint venture with News Corp.

Last June, the Fox Kids partnership bought out the parent company of the Family Channel cabler with the goal of turning it into a competitor to dominant kiddie cabler Nickelodeon.

Saban is shifting its resources from syndication to the Fox Kids broadcast net and the Fox Family Channel cabler at a time when ratings for syndie children’s shows are plunging. Increased competition from cable nets and the startup Kids’ WB! children’s block on WB affils has steadily squeezed syndie fare, even top-notch Disney animation, out of optimum morning and afternoon timeslots.

Even proven Saban properties like “X-Men” and “Marvel Superheroes” cartoon packages have been laggards as Monday-Friday syndie strips this season, following several successful years on Fox Kids’ Saturday morning slate.

Other Saban titles airing in syndication this season are the animated series “Dragon Ball Z” and the live-action “All-New Captain Kangaroo.”

Those and other Saban library titles will air later this year on the Fox Family Channel’s daytime sked; Saban’s new productions will continue to bow first on the Fox Kids broadcast schedule.

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