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Tribune to Handle Telco Distribution

Jan 1, 2007  •  Post A Comment

Tribune Entertainment has inked a deal with independent producer-distributor Telco Productions to distribute Telco’s current and future series in syndication.

Tribune already handles Telco’s barter sales.

While the Tribune Co. has either sold or agreed to sell about $450 million of its assets this year to boost its flagging stock price, the company still owns 23 television stations including seven of the top 10 markets. The move would seem to support speculation among the television industry that the company would no longer produce first-run programming on its own. Instead, Tribune Entertainment, the programming division of Tribune Broadcasting, is expected to continue to partner with producers to help direct shows to the Tribune stations. This shift in strategy could spell opportunity for smaller players, like Telco, company President Alex Paen said.

“As a small syndicator, we were always fighting the big guys to get our shows on the air,” Mr. Paen told TelevisionWeek. “Every year we battle to get clearances, and we’re excited when Tribune wanted to help with the distribution aspects of our shows in addition to the barter. They are an established distribution company that is very well known in the marketplace.”

Among the series that Tribune will now distribute will be Telco’s weekly series “Animal Rescue,” “Missing” and the upcoming weekly half-hour “Dog Tales,” in addition to home video sales of its “Animal Rescue” series.

“Animal Rescue” is currently in its 10th season and cleared in more than 90 percent of the country. “Missing” is in its fourth season and airs in more than 80 percent of the country.

“Dog Tales” will be devoted exclusively to the world of dogs and their owners. The series will highlight various breeds, and include segments on dog training, as well as health, behavior, personality and peculiarities of canines. It also presents the latest in dog product news and interesting dog stories.

“There are some 65 million owned dogs in the United States. About 40 percent of American households own at least one dog and they consider their pet part of the family,” said Mr. Paen, who added that launching “Dog Tales” would be a natural extension of Telco’s “Animal Rescue,” which as the title suggests documents the saving of animals in peril.

Tribune Entertainment currently holds distribution rights to more than 15 series, as well as specials and DreamWorks movie packages. Among the series the company is currently involved with in a partnership is “The Greg Behrendt Show,” with Sony Pictures Television.

“This was an easy call for both of us,” Mr. Paen said. “We’ve been happy with Tribune handling our barter time over the years and now that they are handling distribution. Not only should that strengthen the lineups for our series but it also unburdens me from doing distribution so I can concentrate on production.”