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Tribune Renews NBCU’s ‘Maury,’ ‘Jerry Springer’ and ‘Steve Wilkos’ Through 2012

The Tribune station group has renewed NBC Universal’s trio of talk shows – Maury, Jerry Springer and Steve Wilkos – for two more years, through the 2011-2012 season. The group-wide renewal guarantees that all three shows will continue for three more years. It also means that some timeslots that rival syndicators were eyeing will not open up anytime soon.

The broadcast group also has renewed several shows distributed by Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution through 2012, including strips Judge Mathis, People’s Court, TMZ and Judge Jeanine Pirro, as well as weekly hour This Old House. Tribune is not the key group for the Warner Bros. shows as it is for the NBCU shows, but key clearances include Judge Mathis on WPIX New York and People’s Court and Mathis on WTTV Indianapolis, KIAH Houston and KCPQ Seattle. Tribune’s renewal of Judge Pirro, which premiered last year on The CW network, secures its return to first-run syndication.

All three of NBCU’s shows have been renewed on a cash-plus barter basis, with a 11/4 local-national advertising split in Wilkos, Maury and Springer. Double-runs are optional.

“You look at these [NBCU] shows’ ratings and they are holding up,” says Sean Compton, Tribune’s SVP, programming and entertainment. “When it’s a tough economy like this one and automotive [advertising] has pulled out of the market, direct response [advertising] is not a bad word. These shows sell very well for our group. I don’t want to be the idiot to go out and find the next 0.5-rated show. I hate to use the term ‘if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it’ but that applies here. Largely because of these shows, we are not struggling in daytime.”
Maury, Jerry and Wilkos all attract direct-response advertising, which are lower-cost ads that come with a 1-800 number so that viewers can follow-up with the advertiser. In this down economy, direct-response advertising has become more common.