Fox Net Will Win Hill'

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Either FX or Fox Family Channel will wind up getting the off-network cable rights to King of the Hill, officials confirmed last week.

Through the newly named Fox Cable Networks, FX and Fox Family jointly pursued the cable rights to Hill, which they will have access to starting in September 2004. The pact marks the first time distributor Twentieth TV has sold a show to a programming group, rather than to one television network, according to a spokeswoman.

Fox Family president Rich Cronin said Hill was "a rare property" in that both his network, which targets families, and FX, which aims to attract a younger "psychographic" with provocative programming, are interested in the animated hit show.

"It's one of those rare shows that fits us both," Cronin said. "We thought King of the Hill was the kind of program that fits a contemporary family network."

Fox Family is jointly owned by Fox Cable Networks parent News Corp. and Saban Entertainment. FX is totally owned by News Corp. "We're half-brother to FX," Cronin said.

At FX Networks, president Peter Liguori agreed that Hill is "a show that could fit on both networks. It has successfully drawn 18-to-49 numbers, and it expresses a Fox-like attitude and an FX-type attitude."

It may be two or three years until Fox Family and FX decide which network will actually get Hill, Cronin said. At that point, both networks can look at their schedules and make a decision as to where the show would be best suited, according to Cronin.

He added that it's not so unusual for a programming group to buy rights to an off-network series without first knowing which of its networks the show will air on. For example, MTV Networks would buy reruns first and decide later if they should air on Nick at Nite or TV Land, Cronin said.

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