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PPC to Take On WB 100-Plus

The WB 100-Plus station/cable consortium just got a big new competitor for syndicated-program product in smaller TV markets.

Spearheaded by Raycom Media Inc., the new PPC program-buying consortium landed its first big program Thursday: rights to the On Air with Ryan Seacrest
strip, set to debut in January 2004.

Raycom programming vice president Mary Carol McDonnell has been leading the charge to get the consortium up and running since January, when she presented the idea at the Fox affiliate meeting in New Orleans. She hired Janet Bass (a former sales executive with New Line Television) a few months ago as a consultant to help sign up stations, which now total 228 covering roughly 15% of the United States in markets No. 100-plus.

"We think this an exciting and innovative project and something that we really needed to do from a self-interest standpoint first and foremost," Raycom president Paul McTear said.

McTear was referring to the frustration many smaller-market stations have felt as The WB 100 consortium has virtually cornered the market (up to now) on acquiring almost all of the desirable new syndicated product that's been offered to markets 100-plus because The WB consortium has offered one-stop selling to syndicators in those markets.

But now, it looks like there will be competitive bidding from PPC, which has multiple stations in many markets.

McDonnell said decisions on who gets first opportunity to bid in markets with multiple members will be made on a case-by-case basis in consultation with the syndicators.

Stations getting Seacrest
include Raycom, Northwest Broadcasting, Fisher Communications Inc., Piedmont Broadcasting Corp. and Cosmos Broadcasting Corp., as well as one station each from Meredith Broadcasting Corp. and Cox Broadcasting Inc.