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Fox cancels 'Mad TV'

MadtvFox has canceled one of its longest-running shows -- the late-night sketch comedy veteran "Mad TV."

The Saturday night mainstay's current 14th season will be its last on the network, say Fox sources confirming a report on Defamer.

Yet the show's co-creator David Salzman says he's not giving up on the program and plans to shop "Mad TV" to cable networks and other outlets.

"There’s a long list of parties that have called us, including a few very recently, and we’re going to start conversations with them very shortly," Salzman says.

Fox told Salzman the show had become too expensive considering its time period and ratings. Unlike dramas and comedies that suffer the broadcast ax, however, Salzman believes his show's budget can scaled back to suit a cable network.

"I think we can change it without it really being noticeable," he says. "We’ve learned over the years how to do things on an efficient basis."

Salzman calls his show "the only success in the 21-year history of Fox's late night" and gave credit to the network for giving him enough notice to potentially find another distributor without interrupting production. He adds that Fox ordered a shortened season this year and will wrap production in December.

In one respect, the timing of the cancellation is actually fortuitous -- the show’s licensing deal with Comedy Central, which airs the show's first 11 seasons in repeats, is set to expire at the end of the year. Salzman can offer buyers the exclusive rights to air the show's library of content if they pick up the show, or sell the show and its library separately.

Salzman also praised competitor "Saturday Night Live," calling the show "the greatest of its type of all time." Still, Salzmannoted his show -- which embraces a hip-hop sensibility compared with theNBC program's 1970s rock-and-roll roots -- has faced an uphill battle for attention.

"Saturday Night Live" is a heavily promoted and legendary member of the NBCfamily. On Fox, "Mad TV" has been like a distant cousin of the network's other programming, a holdover from the network's mid-1990s brand that, to its credit, kept managing to draw an audience and survive despite several programming management turnovers.

"'Mad TV' has been one of the longest running series in recent television history," says Kevin Reilly, president of entertainment at Fox, in a statement. "The fact that this Emmy Award-winning show has been a Fox mainstay in late-night for 14 years is a testament to the creativity and dedication put forth each week by the talented cast, writers and crew. This was a very difficult decision and we would like to give our heartfelt thanks to everyone at 'Mad TV' for making us laugh for over 300 irreverent episodes."

"Mad TV" is averaging a 1.1 adult demo rating and 2.6 million viewers this season, down 6% from last year -- a relatively modest drop compared to the ratings hits endured by many shows this fall. Of Fox’s programming, only "The Simpsons," "Cops" and "America’s Most Wanted" have been on the network longer. Fox's decision does not current impact Fox's other late-night Saturday program, "Talkshow with Spike Feresten."

The final Fox episode -- No. 326 -- is scheduled to air in May.

"We’re proud of what we’ve accomplished, we’re appreciative of what Fox has done and we don’t think it should be over yet," Salzman says.

Updated: Fall TV series survival status report.