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USA and WWE, a Tag Team Again

Last month, in announcing the end of its relationship with WWE, Spike TV said, "moving forward, Spike TV will expand its investments in original programming and new acquisitions for its core audience." Spike is scheduled to add "CSI: NY" reruns to its lineup in fall 2006.

(WWE's deal with UPN for "Smackdown!" is separate from the other WWE deal and has one more season after the current season.)

WWE's new deal with USA isn't as sweet as the one it had with Spike TV. WWE will receive a license fee for its programs that is similar to the deal it has with Spike, according to a WWE filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. But under its Spike TV agreement, WWE sells most of the ad time in its cable programs; under the new deal, USA will sell all advertising in the programming and retain all ad revenues.

In addition to "Monday Night Raw," USA will telecast a one-hour weekend "Raw"-branded program and NBC Universal's Telemundo network will air Spanish-language versions of "Raw." NBC also has committed to airing at least two yearly, 90-minute Saturday late-night "Raw" specials.

Nine years later, "JAG" has been canceled -- again.

CBS and Paramount Network Television announced yesterday that the final episode will air at the end of this month.

The series was first canceled by NBC in its first season, 1995-96, when it averaged 11.4 million viewers and nearly 4 percent of the available 18- to 49-year-old audience. Yes, NBC used to cancel shows with that kind of numbers; now it calls them "hits."

CBS picked up the show and has run it since.

"We've had an amazing run, particularly for a series that was once canceled," creator/executive producer Donald P. Bellisario said yesterday in a news release in which he, CBS and Paramount fell all over each other with protestations of love and admiration for one another.

CBS Chairman Leslie Moonves called "JAG" "a very influential part of the network's turnaround."

In its first CBS season, the military drama (JAG stands for Judge Advocate General corps) averaged nearly 12 million viewers.

The following season, it gained viewers, reaching a peak of more than 14 million during the 1998-99 TV season. The show slid slightly the next two seasons, but in 2001-02 jumped to nearly 15 million viewers, which some speculated was the result of renewed interest following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

This season "JAG" is averaging just under 10 million viewers and, in its time slot, is averaging just 1.9 percent of viewers in that key 18-49 age bracket.

Al Gore thinks he can lure young viewers to his new cable TV network by having them contribute their own videos, the Associated Press reported yesterday.

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