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Degrassi Kids Get Stripped

Independent distributor Program Partners will strip previous 30-minute episodes of the popular Canadian series Degrassi: The Next Generation in the U.S. for early fringe time periods starting in fall 2007.

Approximately 19-24 first-run episodes will continue to run each year on MTV’s nighttime teen network the N (it begins season six Friday), while 119 episodes will be initially available for syndication.

The sales campaign, dubbed “2-2-2,” will involve offering the series as a strip for two years, with an automatic two-year renewal. It will be sold for cash plus a customary barter split of two national minutes and five local Monday-Thursday. But the Friday episode will air barter-free.

Program Partners principal Josh Raphaelson and Ritch Colbert, who have created a lucrative business selling Canadian content into the U.S., tell B&C that they will work “hand in hand” with their “marketing partner” at The N in selling the show.

The latest incarnation of the 25-year-old franchise has delved into such controversial issues such as abortion and homosexuality. Colbert says Program Partners is “exploring the idea of creating an editorial board among our affiliates that will assist in making” decisions about the airing of controversial episodes.

Raphaelson describes the show as “lightning in a bottle,” pointing to recent season premieres on The N (in 50 million digital homes) that beat big broadcast and cable networks in women 12-34.

A top-10 favorite destination of users, Degrassi: The New Generation has quite a following among women age 25-34, which have constituted nearly a fourth of the top-rated Canadian drama’s audience in recent seasons. Three former cast members have been brought back for this latest edition as adults.