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Five gets OK to keep U.S. imports on sked

Net's recent acquisitions include 'Angel,' 'Alias'

LONDON — U.K. commercial web Five, which has been scheduling more American drama during peaktime, looks set to add to its spate of U.S. acquisitions, having signed a deal with regulator the Independent Television Commission to keep its local programming quota low.

Five was due to have its British and European Union programming quota raised from 53% last year to 72% this year, but the ITC has agreed to increase it only slightly to 55%. Each year the quota will be increased by 1% until it reaches 60% in 2008, when a new deal will be struck.

Five is, however, obliged to fill half of its peaktime schedule (6-10:30 p.m.) with British and Euro programs.

Five has an impressive record of attracting auds for its U.S. imports, and the web is hoping to re-create the success of “CSI,” which it bought having seen only a pilot. Forensic drama regularly pulls in more than 2 million viewers, more than “The West Wing” on Channel 4.

Recent U.S. acquisitions include “The Lyon’s Den,” “Angel,” “Dawson’s Creek” and “Alias.”

Five confirmed Thursday that it has spent this year’s program budget, £157 million ($262 million), in just six months.

Station has been pressing shareholders RTL and United Business Media to increase its budget. It is reviewing the way it orders programming and taking a longer-term view of its needs.

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