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USA net cops ‘SVU’ rights

Fee in same range as Bravo's off-net rights for 'Wing'

USA Network has picked up the exclusive off-net rights to NBC drama “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” the second series in Wolf Films and Studios USA’s “Law & Order” franchise.

The license fee USA is ponying up for the Dick Wolf series is in the same ballpark as the $1.2 million-per-episode fee that Bravo paid for off-net rights to “The West Wing” (Daily Variety, March 21). “SVU” will start airing Monday through Friday on the general entertainment cable network in September 2003.

The agreement between the corporate siblings extends the life of the crime series, which NBC has renewed through the 2001-02 season. In addition, USA will continue to air original episodes of the series at 11 p.m. Sundays, nine days after NBC airs them Fridays at 10 p.m.

Thus, come 2003, “SVU” will be seen on USA six days a week.

Pact is rather different from the syndication deal made for the original “Law & Order,” which is in its 11th season on NBC and renewed through 2005.

“Law & Order’s” off-net run is on A&E. Starting in September, episodes from the 1998-99 season and beyond will air on TNT, which will then also get the second cycle of the entire series exclusively starting in September ’02.

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