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Will TLC open up a syndie ‘Trading’ post?

Cabler currently benefits from exclusivity

Syndie distributors are licking their lips over the off-network sales potential of TLC’s megahit “Trading Spaces.”

After all, more than 150 episodes already have been produced of the home-improvement show, more than enough to be turned into a weekday strip.

One problem: TLC isn’t looking to sell the show — yet.

Syndicators of all varieties have made it known that they’d like a crack at distribbing the show should TLC change its mind. TLC general manager Roger Marmet says he doesn’t keep a list of who might get dibs on “Spaces” — but admits there are definitely syndication outfits with designs on the show.

“People have presented ideas or roughly outlined proposals that are tremendously lucrative,” Marmet says. “But that’s not what’s driving this. … There are all sorts of reasons (not to do it), which are tied to the value that we get for it being exclusively on TLC.”

Marmet says the network fears selling repeats of “Trading Spaces” to broadcast stations — even in daytime slots where TLC doesn’t telecast it — might hurt the cabler’s own run of the home improvement tour de force.

An off-net sale also might anger cable MSOs that carry TLC, which has become a major industry player thanks to the show.

Off-net runs of cable series are rare but not unprecedented. MTV “retired” the first few seasons of “The Real World” into syndication, while HBO’s “Larry Sanders Show” eventually made it to broadcast stations in a sanitized version.

But most cable nets prefer to hold onto their homegrown hits — and can do so since they own much of their own fare. That allows signature shows to be kept in heavy rotation for years to come.

Still, Marmet says he can’t count out an eventual off-net syndie play for “Trading Spaces.”

“If we were at a point where we had six different hits and it made sense for either financial reasons or for bringing more exposure to it, then we would consider it,” Marmet says. “But that’s totally speculative. (“Trading Spaces”) is absolutely a huge part of who we are.”

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