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Tribune after Ma Osbourne

Dec 16, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Tribune has put the moves on MTV’s favorite matriarch.
Sharon Osbourne’s upcoming talk show, to debut in fall 2003, has drawn strong overtures from the Tribune station group, which currently is in heated talks with Telepictures about acquiring the single-topic show, sources said.
The show hosted by “The Osbournes”’ mom has generated keen interest from a number of other station groups as well. Insiders with knowledge of the Tribune proposal say several hurdles remain before any contract can be finalized.
“There’s a lot of interest out there from stations but we haven’t concluded a deal that we can announce yet,” a Telepictures spokesman said when asked about the Tribune talks.
A Tribune official declined to comment on the company’s interest in the upcoming series.
Potential obstacles to the deal could include episode commitment, carriage on Tribune-owned superstation WGN (offsetting any multipurposing arrangement with cable channels) and, of course, license fees.
However, sources say whatever roadblocks remain could be “easily overcome and probably wouldn’t be a problem in the end.”
One station source agreed, noting: “Simply put, Tribune needs another hit in daytime and I can confirm that they are salivating over the prospect of putting Sharon Osbourne on the air-she seems to draw ratings no matter where she is.”
According to Nielsen, MTV’s reality skein “The Osbournes” kicked off its second season on MTV with 6.64 million viewers, earning honors as the most-watched cable program that night. The episode’s 6.2 rating in 12- to 34-year-olds was up 84 percent compared with the first season’s premiere episode in March, according to MTV. The series came in first in its 10:30 p.m. time slot among adults 18 to 34 with a 5.5 rating and 7 share.
The match between Ms. Osbourne and Tribune would be a natural given their target audiences, according to Bill Carroll, Katz Television Group VP and director of group programming.
“Given the style of programming the Tribune stations have on the air right now with strips such as `Maury,’ `Jerry Springer’ and `Jenny Jones,’ as well as their WB affiliation, it would seem that there would be a natural fit with Sharon Osbourne’s show,” Mr. Carroll said.
“Based on what she has said she would like to do on her show, it would seem that she would cover different issues than those handled by an `Oprah’ or a `Dr Phil.’ The real question will be where on their schedule the stations can air the series.”
Tribune stations currently carry two hours of WB Kids! Programming throughout the week, filling two hours that used to go to syndicated series.
Currently, Tribune stations center their daytime schedules around four talk shows: rookie “Beyond With James Van Praagh,” from Tribune Entertainment; “Maury” (often double run during the day) and “Jerry Springer” from Universal; and Telepictures’ own veteran “Jenny Jones.”