CBS BUNDLES NET, SYNDIE UPFRONT ADS

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In an unprecedented move, CBS' network sales force will bundle a syndicated show, "Pensacola: Wings of Gold," with its own network programming during TV's upfront marketplace.

The nearly $2 billion syndication marketplace broke last week, with TeleVest, New York; Leo Burnett USA, Chicago; and Botway Group, New York, all said to have closed deals.

ESTIMATED $6 BIL MARKET

The network market is expected to break later this spring and is estimated at $6 billion.

"Pensacola," set to debut this fall, stars James Brolin as the commander of a military aviation unit based in Pensacola, Fla. The hourlong action show, from CBS' Eyemark Entertainment, has been sold to TV stations covering more than 90% of the country, including those owned by CBS. The show is designed for 7 p.m. (ET) Saturdays, as a lead-in to CBS' successful prime-time lineup that night.

'AN EXPERIMENT'

"This is an experiment," said Joe Abruzzese, president of sales for CBS Television Network. "Our people will be taking it to certain agencies where we have strong relationships, for [their] clients who might not ordinarily consider syndication."

Mr. Abruzzese said network and Eyemark executives "are working very closely on this."

Agency executives said they find the plan intriguing and want to know more about it.

"Pensacola" has a clearance level "more like a network show than your ordinary syndicated show," Mr. Abruzzese said, and CBS also thinks it has a value greater than run-of-the-mill syndicated fare.

"If we get a certain cost-per-thousand for our network shows, then this one is probably worth that certain amount minus, let's say, 10%," said one CBS insider. Part of the plan would likely stipulate that any ratings shortfall for "Pensacola" be made up in CBS network shows if CBS network sales made the deal.

The blurring of lines between the selling of network, cable and syndication is something CBS plans to continue. A few months ago, Group W Satellite Sales, the CBS division that sells time for TNN: The Nashville Network, among others, sold all ad time for two auto races that first aired on CBS, then repeated on TNN.

AGENCIES CLOSING DEALS

Meanwhile, while most agencies and syndicators were waiting for activity to begin this week, Burnett, TeleVest and Botway last week were busy talking to some syndicators and closing deals.

King World's Camelot Entertainment Sales was said to be asking for low- to mid-double-digit cost-per-thousand increases for its shows, including "The Oprah Winfrey Show" "Wheel of Fortune" and "Jeopardy!" The agencies would like to limit Camelot's increases to high single digits.

As syndication breaks, upfront cable programmers continue to talk to agencies about making deals. Turner Entertainment is said to have finalized much of its deal with Burnett, though Turner denies it has closed anything and Burnett won't comment.

Burnett has been playing hardball in cable, wanting deals for no more than zero to 3% CPM increases. The Turner deal was supposedly closed at 5% to 8% CPM

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