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It doesn't look like Glenn Beck will be battling Katie Couric in the syndication wars anytime soon.
While Fox News and Beck are parting ways, the host's clear conservative bent makes him an unlikely prospect to host a syndicated talk show, say several syndicators.
Beck's representatives actively reached out to potential distributors about a year ago, said one source, but found no interest at that time.
The most likely candidate to try a daytime talker with the now-former Fox News star would be Twentieth Television and the Fox Television Stations, both of which, like Fox News, are owned by News Corp. However, Fox News chose to part ways with the host of its third-highest rated primetime show, according to sources, and isn't eager to get back into business with Beck at the moment.
Moreover, Twentieth and the Fox Television Stations tried a talk show with the affable but conservative Mike Huckabee last summer that failed to attract much of an audience.
In general, highly political candidates, such as Huckabee or Sarah Palin, are a tough sell. Stations in conservative markets might be highly receptive to someone like Palin, while station managers in liberal markets would refuse to pick the show up.
Even talk-show queen Oprah Winfrey ran into ratings trouble after she endorsed then-Senator Barack Obama (D-Ill.) to become president of the United States.
In order to succeed, syndicated shows have to be cleared across the entire country to be able to sell lucrative national advertising. Without Fox on board, Beck faces limited options when it comes to broadcast distribution.
After Fox, the Tribune station group, which is successful with its daytime block of conflict-oriented talk shows, is the next most likely home for a talker starring Beck, but a Tribune source says the group would not be interested. Tribune's president of programming, Sean Compton, helped launch Beck into national radio syndication in 2001.
That leaves CBS, NBC or ABC. (Those three station groups plus Tribune and Fox control all the stations in the nation's top-three markets of New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, which must be cleared in order to successfully launch any nationally syndicated TV show.) There's no buzz around a Glenn Beck talker at either CBS or NBC, report spokespersons, and ABC is highly selective about the first-run projects it pursues. Moreover, there's very little room for new daytime shows on either the CBS or ABC station groups. NBC has room, but considering the political leanings of MSNBC, Beck would be a poor fit for NBC's brand.
Still, one source says that he would expect Beck to shop a show to distributors and stations just to see if he can get any traction. "Glenn is like Regis; he'll stay on the air until he's 80 if he can," says the source.
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