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Discovery Makes Home for Martha

Polishing up a certain domestic diva's career comeback, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (MSLO) has inked a deal with Discovery Communications.

Discovery-owned TLC will re-air Martha Stewart's upcoming syndicated show Martha and programs from the MSLO programming library. In addition, MSLO will develop a 13-episode home improvement series for a yet-to-be determined Discovery network.

TLC will re-air Martha the day of its syndicated broadcast. The show is set to launch in more than 96% of the country Sept. 12. Stewart could be a boon for the ratings-challenged network, still smarting from its over-reliance on home improvement reality show Trading Spaces. Down 30% in prime during second quarter 2005, TLC averaged 680,000 total viewers nightly, and recently announced a slew of reality fare in the hopes of finding a new prime time hit.

Stewart, who has deals for the syndicated show and a version of NBC's The Apprentice, is also on the road to recovery: In 2004, she was convicted of obstruction of justice related to her December 2001 sale of ImClone Systems stock. She served five months in prison and is still under home confinement.

TLC could provide a home for the show MSLO is developing for Discovery. Set to air in 2006, the program will pair mentors with six women recovering from bankruptcy, rehab or welfare-reliance to teach them home improvement skills. It is slated to begin production this fall.

The show would also be a good fit on Discovery’s yet-unrated Discovery Home, a 10-year-old channel available in 37 million homes.

As part of the deal, Discovery will run programs from MSLO’s library of Stewart’s programs, likely her previous show or specials. Style network currently taps into the library, stripping episodes of her now-defunct CBS show Martha Stewart Living at 5 p.m. and running Stewart’s specials.

Maryland-based Discovery Communications is owned by Liberty Media, Cox Communications, Advance/Newhouse Communications and founder John Hendricks. Launched in 1985, the company’s holdings include The Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, Travel Channel and The Science Channel.
Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc. controls publishing, television, merchandising and Internet/Direct Commerce businesses.