FOX EYES LINKUP WITH CTW TO BOOST ITS KIDS OFFERINGS: 'SESAME ST.' CREATOR COULD GAIN NEW ROUTE INTO CABLE

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Fox Television has been holding on-again/off-again discussions with Children's Television Workshop, best known as the producer of public TV's "Sesame Street."

One scenario would have Fox making an equity investment in the non-profit CTW, in exchange for library and fresh programming that could be funneled, in part, to cable's Family Channel.

Fox Kids Worldwide, a joint venture of Fox and Saban Entertainment, acquired the Family Channel from International Family Entertainment.

CTW President-CEO David Britt has made it no secret that CTW would like a major cable presence.

"We have had discussions with Fox in recent months, but we're not talking right now," said Ellen Lewis, VP-publicity and promotion for CTW.

Fox declined comment.

FOX EXECS EAGER FOR DEAL

While it's clear no deal is imminent, a person close to Fox said that certain Fox executives are eager to strike a pact with CTW.

But "any serious deal with CTW might be difficult to do right now," said the executive, because the acquisition of Family Channel is costing $1.25 billion.

CTW already produces one show for cable, "Big Bag" for the Cartoon Network, a service of Time Warner's Turner Broadcasting System. CTW has produced 13 hours of the show and has a deal for 26 more episodes.

If Fox could do a deal with CTW, no doubt Fox would love to gain access to the crown jewel of "Sesame Street." But as long as that series is on the Public Broadcasting Service, reruns cannot appear elsewhere, a PBS spokesman said.

3,655 EPISODES OF 'SESAME ST.'

CTW has produced a phenomenal 3,655 episodes of "Sesame Street" since its debut in 1969.

While the series is identified with public TV in the U.S., in the U.K. it runs on commercial TV.

CTW's other award-winning series are "The Electric Company," "3-2-1 Contact" and "Square One TV."

Another attraction of CTW is the revenue it brings in from licensing arrangements, primarily of "Sesame Street" characters.

Last holiday season, Tyco Pre-school's Tickle Me Elmo-based on a "Sesame Street" was the toy industry's hot item.

Last year, CTW had total revenue of about $112 million.

In addition to its PBS and Cartoon Network programming, CTW is producing a new show for CBS called "Ghostwriter Mysteries." In a deal with Columbia TriStar

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