4Kids in playdate with CW

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The CW is the latest broadcast network to get out of the Saturday morning kids business.

The network has inked a five-year deal with 4Kids Entertainment, which will be supplying five hours of children's programming to air on Saturdays on the CW.

Under the pact, which starts in the 2008-09 broadcast season, 4Kids will market the block and sell the national commercial advertising for it, sharing revenue with the network.

"The last number of years have seen significant consolidation in the world of kids' programming," CW COO John Maatta said.

4Kids already supplies Fox's Saturday morning kids programming. Fox recently exercised an option to extend its deal with 4Kids through the end of the 2008-09 season. CBS' Saturday morning block is handled by DIC Entertainment. NBC is running its Saturday kids block in conjunction with ION Media Networks.

"We have tremendous faith in Saturday morning kids television," said Norman Grossfeld, president of 4Kids subsidiary 4Kids Prods.

4Kids has collaborated with Warner Bros., which owns the CW with CBS, licensing to the studio such TV series and movies as "Pokemon" and "Yu-Gi-Oh!"

The proliferation of kids programming on home video and 24-hour cable channels has put a squeeze on the broadcast network's Saturday morning kids blocks.

"We fully believe it makes the most business sense for the CW in this broadcast marketplace," Warner Bros. TV Group president Bruce Rosenblum said.

He stressed that Warner Bros. is not getting out of the children's animation business and will continue to produce series for cable, direct-to-DVD, broadband, wireless and other platforms.
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