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NBC Renews ‘Cosby’ Show at Lower Fee

TIMES STAFF WRITER

NBC, which last year paid a record amount to renew “The Cosby Show” for a seventh season, has reached an agreement to renew the series for an eighth year but at a lower fee than it currently pays.

The renewal of “The Cosby Show,” as well as its companion series, “A Different World,” were seen as critical moves by NBC because the network is facing declining ratings and a dwindling number of new prime-time hits.

Last year NBC agreed to pay more than $62 million, or $2.6 million per episode, to renew “Cosby,” then the top-rated series. Industry sources said the license fee for an eighth season of “Cosby” has been lowered to about $2 million per episode, or about $50 million for 25 episodes.

In addition, NBC agreed to a two-year renewal of “A Different World” for $1.4 million per episode, or $70 million for 50 episodes.

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“Cosby” and “A Different World” are produced by the Carsey-Werner Co. in association with Bill Cosby.

“Cosby” is the most profitable show in the history of television, to date generating about $730 million in rerun revenue.

NBC declined comment, as did a spokesman for Carsey-Werner.

The lower license fee paid for “Cosby” reflects the hit comedy’s decline in ratings this past season, although it still ranks among the top five shows on television.

Costly license renewals were one of the main arguements the networks used in their campaign earlier this year to overturn federal regulations that bar them from owing most of the shows they air.

But producers argue that the networks make hundreds of millions of dollars annually on hit series. In addition, producer renewal demands reflect all the years they incurred losses on the shows because the networks paid less than what it cost to make the series.


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