Fox 21 May Get Into the MyNetworkTV Mix

Now that News Corp. is looking to revive its dismally rated all-telenovela netlet, MyNetworkTV (MNT), with an injection of low-cost reality and game shows (B&C, Dec. 15), the company may let Fox 21 get in on the act.

A production arm of 20th Century Fox Television, Fox 21 is the low-cost scripted and reality shop behind The WB’s Beauty and the Geek. It was left out of the MNT mix when News Corp. made syndication wing Twentieth Television the exclusive supplier of MNT programming. (Twentieth already owned several telenovela-inspired script formats it had been prepping for the syndication market.)

But Fox 21 has resurfaced in the weeks since News Corp. decided to resurrect its abandoned contingency plan to develop low-cost alternatives to MNT’s stripped telenovelas.

Those with knowledge of talks at MNT say that Fox 21, along with Twentieth and independent producers, could form the backbone of a new MNT programming stable.

Bringing in Fox 21 allows MNT to stick to its low-cost, in-house program model—a must if it wants to preserve the generous ad-time split (nine minutes of local, five minutes of national) that initially attracted affiliates. If major outside network and first-run suppliers were to contribute, they would likely demand higher license fees or 52-week commitments to help recoup their program investments. And that’s something the struggling netlet can’t afford.