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‘Wife’ sets up house at ABC Family

Show fits perfectly with net's p'gramming, exec VP sez

NEW YORK — ABC Family has bought the cable TV rights to reruns of the hit sitcom “My Wife & Kids” for a license fee that could reach $52 million.

The Alphabet network show “fits in perfectly with ABC Family’s strategy of putting on fun, lighthearted programming” that will appeal to viewers across all demographics, said net exec VP Tom Cosgrove.

Although Cosgrove declined to discuss dollar figures, ABC Family will pay about $315,000 an episode for all of the half-hours produced up to a total of 165. Distrib Buena Vista will hold back three 30-second spots from each ABC Family run of “My Wife & Kids” for sale to national advertisers.

All of the principals involved in the show — ABC Family, Buena Vista and producer Touchstone TV — are divisions of the Walt Disney Co., but other cable networks made offers, including TBS and FX.

“My Wife & Kids” is the second major off-network purchase for Family since ABC officially took it over from Fox in fall 2001. The other big deal was for Warner Bros. Domestic’s “Gilmore Girls,” a bellwether hit on the WB, which fetched about $425,000 an episode from ABC Family for an exclusive multi-year window starting in fall 2004.

ABC Family will get cable exclusivity for “My Wife & Kids” but will have to share it with individual TV stations throughout the country, which will be stripping it in off-net syndication starting in fall 2005.

Already, TV stations in 75% of the U.S. have committed to “My Wife & Kids.” They’ll get it exclusively for three years before the show makes its way to ABC Family for a five-year license term. Net can start running it twice a day in fall 2008.

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