Gannett Broadcasting and Lionsgate-owned Debmar-Mercury have formed a partnership to develop, produce, test and distribute first-run syndicated TV series built around the concept of interactivity. Through the partnership, Gannett will be able to create and test first-run syndicated programming across all genres on its stations beginning in 2015. “We will work together to design shows to take advantage of how television has changed and create a new genre of syndicated programming,” said Gannett president Dave Lougee. “With more than 40 stations across the country, we will have the ability to experiment, test and refine programs throughout the development process.” Meanwhile, Debmar-Mercury, which is behind such 10-90 sitcoms as Anger Management and syndicated talk shows like Wendy Williams, gains distribution for its shows on Gannett, which operates the largest independent TV station group of major network affiliates in the top 25 U.S. television markets. When Gannett and Debmar-Mercury agree on the concept and timing of their first project together, they will test the series on various Gannett stations and at various times throughout the year at different test run durations. Debmar-Mercury’s Wendy Williams Show started off with a test run on the Fox stations, which had been the most active with that model. “We are big believers in the on-air testing model because it gives stations concrete information on which to base their buying decisions before making long-term commitments to a series,” said Mort Marcus and Ira Bernstein, co-presidents of Debmar-Mercury.
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