Foxtel, Ten divvy Fox spoils

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SYDNEY -- Pay TV network Foxtel and free-to-air broadcaster Network Ten on Monday unveiled details of how they will carve up the first-run programming they have acquired under their new joint output deal with 20th Century Fox Television.

Foxtel also said it will synch the launch of its new series with the U.S. TV premieres, following similar plans announced last week by Australia's three commercial TV networks and flagged by Foxtel last year.

Under the new arrangements, commencing with season launches in September, Foxtel will air the sitcom "The Rules for Starting Over" and police drama "K-Ville," day-and-date with their U.S. broadcasts.

Said Foxtel executive director of television and marketing, Brian Walsh: "20th Century Fox has delivered a vibrant slate. Foxtel's acquisitions signify a major shift for subscription television as we join the commercial networks in screening major first-run series from the Hollywood studios."

Ten, meanwhile, has grabbed first-run rights to "Back to You," "Women's Murder Club" and "Journeyman" from Fox and also has acquired NBC Universal crime drama "Life."

Ten has yet to detail which shows will join its schedule in 2007 and which, if any, will run day-and-date. The network is expected to air Showtime's "Californication" at the same time as its U.S. launch.

Ten chief programming officer David Mott said Ten will air Foxtel premieres "The Rules for Starting Over" and "K-Ville" in the second half of 2008.

Foxtel also will air "Back to You," "Journeyman" and "Women's Murder Club" on its pay TV channels, immediately following Network Ten's first-season run.

Further, the paynet has acquired Warner Bros.' "Gossip Girls," which was expected to be part of the Nine Network's new season lineup.

"Beyond being a terrific series, 'Gossip Girl' is a very strong brand with huge marketing and promotional potential," Foxtel's Walsh said.

At the same time, Nine announced its extended its output deal with Sony Pictures Television for another five years.

The new deal, which expires in 2012, comes as Nine readies the launch of new Sony shows for next season, including "Cashmere Mafia," "Viva Laughlin," "Damages" and "Canterbury's Law," which, according to Nine director of programming Michael Healy, will "attract additional younger demographics for the network."
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