HBO, ABC Ink Multiyear Production Deal


In a surprise move, Home Box Office will team up with broadcast network ABC
to create broadcast-targeted programming as part of a two-year deal between the
two parties.

Under the deal, HBO Independent Productions -- which has developed such shows
as Everybody Loves Raymond, Roc and Martin for broadcast-TV
distribution -- will provide ABC with a first look at all of its new projects,
according to representatives from both parties.

ABC will provide 'deficit financing' for all HIP projects through 2004,
whether it airs them or not. In return, ABC will own all copyrights to the
shows, according to the deal.

The agreement marks the first major deal for new HBO CEO Chris Albrecht since
he took over the position two weeks ago from Jeff Bewkes, who now heads up a new
entertainment division for HBO parent company AOL Time Warner Inc.

Albrecht, who was head of programming for the pay service, said one of his
goals would be to expand the network's brand beyond its pay TV roots.

'We look forward to combining our creative resources with ABC to develop new,
innovative programming for broadcast television,' Albrecht said in a prepared
statement. 'This new relationship provides us with a great opportunity to build
on our proven track record in creating successful series for broadcast
networks.'The deal also expands HBO's reach beyond AOL Time Warner

In working with ABC, HBO bypassed its own sister broadcast network, The WB
Television Network. It's unclear, however, whether The WB talked with HBO about
an agreement.