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Lifetime programmer ankles femme cabler

Fisher presided over net during a decline in primetime ratings

NEW YORK — Barbara Fisher will ankle her post as Lifetime exec VP of entertainment, the network’s top programming job, when her contract expires later this month.

Fisher presided over the net during a decline in its primetime ratings. After finishing a strong No. 1 among all basic-cable nets in total viewers in 2002, Lifetime dropped to fourth in 2003, slipping by 20% in persons 2-plus. Last year the net also fell by double digits in three key demographic categories: 25-54, 18-49 and 18-34.

In the first quarter of 2004, Lifetime fell to fifth place overall, down 10% from the same period a year ago.

Despite the ratings decline, Lifetime has managed to keep on air four scripted hourlong primetime dramas, “Strong Medicine,” “The Division,” “Wild Card” and “1 800 Missing,” more than any other basic cabler.

And Lifetime’s 12 original movies each year continue to attract sizable audiences.

“I look forward to the next chapter in my career,” Fisher said in a statement.

Fisher’s previous post was network programming prez at Universal Studios. Before that, she was prexy of Universal TV Entertainment from 1991-99, responsible for TV movies, miniseries and original cable series.