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TARTIKOFF; HE'S BACK PROGRAMMING GURU SIGNS ON WITH NEW WORLD TEAM

By Published on .

There's never a dull moment with the Big 4 networks these days.

In more fallout from Fox-New World Communications Group deal, former NBC and Paramount Communications programming impresario Brandon Tartikoff last week became chairman of New World Entertainment. Separately, E.W. Scripps Co. signed a 10-year agreement with Capital Cities/ABC, shifting the affiliations of Scripps stations in Phoenix, Tampa and Baltimore to ABC from Fox. Under the Fox-New World partnership, Fox picked up 12 strong stations that had been Big 3 affiliates.

While Mr. Tartikoff won't work directly for Fox, the network is expected to be the primary beneficiary of programming developed by the production company. New World Entertainment has commitments to supply Fox with two prime-time pilots and a variety of TV movies each year for 10 years.

Mr. Tartikoff said New World is developing a late-night series for the venture and plans a daytime programming block and various prime-time access shows.

Mr. Tartikoff said New World already has scripts for about 13 episodes for the late-night series, but declined to describe it. Also, he said he planned to meet with a "big advertiser" in New York last week about the development of a daytime programming block.

Mr. Tartikoff said New World plans to supply all TV programming outlets and noted his Moving Target Productions currently has deals with ABC, CBS, NBC and PBS. New World is acquiring Moving Target for $9 million.

Mr. Tartikoff formerly was chairman of Paramount Pictures and the NBC Entertainment Group, where he led the nework to six consecutive seasons as No. 1 in prime time. His achievements at Paramount were spottier and, following a car accident that seriously injured his daughter, he announced he was leaving the business to attend to her medical treatment and spend time with his family in New Orleans. He has gradually re-emerged as an active TV programmer. He said the "virtual world of today" makes it possible for him to keep his New World base in New Orleans, while straddling three coasts: "the East Coast, the West Coast and the Gulf Coast."

Thanks to a $500 million investment from Fox Chairman-CEO Rupert Murdoch, New World in the past three months has picked up about $700 million in new equity capital that can be used to create new shows. With a combined reach of about 40% of U.S. TV homes, the two station groups have the power to launch virtually any programming New World deems suitable for the syndication marketplace.

"Distribution. That's the name of the game in television," said Chuck Bachrach, senior VP-media director of Rubin Postaer & Associates, Los Angeles. "You can have the best show in the world, but if nobody can see it, it's hard to make it a success."

"The station deal is the most important part, because there's always a hunger for good syndicated fare and there aren't the risks that are involved in developing a network TV series," said Werner Michel, senior VP-director of national broadcasting at BJK&E Media Group, New York.

"All we want to do is build New World probably into the premiere TV entertainment producer," said New World Chairman Ron Perelman.

Separately, the Scripps-Cap Cities deal displaces Fox at stations in Phoenix and Tampa; the Baltimore station is currently an NBC affiliate. Stations in Detroit and Cleveland remain affiliates, while the station in Cincinnati will stay with CBS. Scripps' property in Kansas City, Mo., now carries Fox programming, but negotiations are under way with unnamed networks for a new affiliation.

Earlier, there was speculation Scripps would reach an agreement with CBS, hit the hardest by the Fox-New World deal, losing eight affiliates.

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