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Big Four step aside for President Obama

Nets to cede time for State of the Union address

The Big Four broadcasters will all cede a portion of their primetime lineup to televise President Obama’s State of the Union address Wednesday night.

As for programming that bookends the speech, Fox, however, will not go into repeat mode. Unlike its competitors that are planning a night of reruns, net is going ahead with an “American Idol” audition show from Dallas in all four time zones.

Nets, and Fox especially, have been somewhat hesitant to automatically give away lucrative air time to Obama, who frequently made primetime speeches earlier in his presidency. The annual State of the Union, however, is a no-brainer, and has traditionally been televised by all the broadcasters — as well as the political cablers.

ABC is offering a lineup of repeat laffers “Modern Family,” “The Middle” and possibly “Cougar Town” (depending on when the speech ends), while CBS is also going the sitcom route. Eye will air “The New Adventures of Old Christine,” “Gary Unmarried” and “Two and a Half Men.”

NBC is airing a repeat of hospital drama “Mercy” and will pre-empt “Law & Order: SVU” and “The Jay Leno Show” to make room for the president.

Female-skewing CW is counterprogramming against the commander-in-chief and will offer a repeat of “Life Unexpected” — hoping to draw young women looking for an alternative to Obama’s speech. Drama fared well in its debut last week.

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