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Tribune Gets Men

Warner Bros. has sold the off-network comedy Two and a Half Men to the Tribune stations for a fall 2007 start, allowing the Chicago-based broadcaster to get back into the sitcom game after losing Everybody Loves Raymond and Seinfeld to rival Fox.

No details were immediately available on the price that financially-pressed Tribune paid for the comedy. Warner Bros. also pitched it to Fox, which along with Tribune continues to look at acquiring Twentieth Television’s Family Guy for next year.

Hailing the deal as the first since Raymond having standard cash-plus-barter licensing terms, Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution President Dick Robertson says it contains mandatory double-runs for the first three years of the term. Tribune plans to air the series in the 6-8 p.m. and late fringe time periods.

The Tribune deal covers the entire duration of the series, beginning with the first four seasons. For each network season of Men thereafter, Robertson says 39 weeks will be added to the length of the agreement.

The syndicator will retain two 30-second national barter spot while Tribune will get 11 in each episode. Two episodes will air on weekends, with Warner Bros. and Tribune splitting the commercial time 50-50, Robertson said.

Robertson also confirmed a previous report (B&C, June 12) that a basic cable deal for the sitcom will begin in the fourth season rather than simultaneously with the broadcast launch. Warner Bros. had tried to get cable networks to pay big bucks to get Men earlier than normal but no one bit.

As Warner Bros. announced in May, when it began selling the sitcom, Tribune will have the right to stream five full episodes per week of Men for free on its stations’ own Websites.

“The show fits our programming needs very well,” Tribune Broadcasting President John Reardon said. “High quality off-net sitcoms are valuable content, so acquiring Two and a Half Men was an easy decision. It is a clear winner that will help our local stations build viewership and revenues.”

“There are precious few programs that come into the syndication marketplace that can move the needle on…station ratings and this is one of them,” Robertson says.

“Sitcoms are the only genre in broadcast syndication to retain their young audience over the last 12 years,” added Jim Paratore, president of Telepictures and executive VP of WBDTD.