NBC to Re-Air Court's 'Forensic Files'

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Call it a case of reverse repurposing: Court TV's most popular original series, Forensic Files, will get a second life on Sunday nights on NBC during late summer.

Thanks to a deal announced by the networks last week, the Court TV series will air on NBC at 8 p.m., beginning Aug. 25 and extending for another three Sunday nights through Sept. 25.

NBC will air back-to-back episodes of the show as a lead-in to Law & Order: Criminal Intent
and Crime & Punishment.

Typically, cable networks have repeated shows within days of their broadcast-network debuts. Among the practitioners of repurposing: Turner Network Television with The WB's Charmed; FX with Fox's 24
and ABC Family with ABC's Alias.

The pact, financial terms of which were not disclosed, provides Court TV with a license fee and brand-building opportunities, as it places Forensic Files
on the leading broadcast network on the medium's most-watched night — albeit at the tail end of the summer.

Court TV chairman and CEO Henry Schleiff said the show will be identified on-air as a Court TV property and the network will get one promotional spot within each NBC airing.

For the Peacock Network, the addition of Forensic Files
affords it with something new to proffer its viewers before the start of the fall season.

"NBC is always looking for fresh, innovative ways to program the summer, and bringing Forensic Files
to our airwaves is an exciting way to do that," NBC Entertainment president Jeff Zucker said in a statement. "It's clear that people are interested in this fascinating topic and we look forward to offering this quality program on NBC."

Whether those offerings extend beyond mid-September remains to be seen.

NBC holds an option for additional exposures, said Schleiff.

"This is an experiment," said a source at the broadcaster. "If it proves successful, you might see something more next summer."

PITHY PITCH

Forensic Files
, produced by Medstar Television,
examines real-life investigations from the crime scene to laboratory as detectives and forensic experts use the latest in science to solve mysteries.

The cable network's presentation to NBC was simple. "The pitch was five words: the reality version of CSI [Crime Scene Investigation]," said Schleiff, who noted that conversations with NBC were initiated "two to three months ago."

Court TV should help boost the NBC run with five new episodes of Files, which averages a 0.9 on the cable channel. They're set to debut on Court TV during the week of Aug. 26, in the show's regular 9 p.m. timeslot.

The cable network will also break a new campaign for the show at that time, as well as introduce a pair of new original documentaries on crime investigations during its weekly series, The System, which airs at 10 p.m.

"It's 'Shark Week' for lawyers, which may be redundant," quipped Schleiff.

The additional exposure on NBC will ultimately benefit Forensic Files
and cable operators whose systems carry the program on a recurrent basis, he said.

REINVESTMENT PLAN

Similarly, Schleiff said operators would gain from the launch of Trial By Fire, the one-hour strip featuring Court TV host Nancy Glass that NBC Enterprises will syndicate in 2003.

Schleiff said profits from that show will be reinvested in original programming that will air on Court TV.

Court TV already has a relationship with NBC through which Dateline NBC
can tap edited versions of the cable network's taped court coverage. Court's on-air talent also contributes to CBS's The Early Show; ABC News Nightline
anchor Ted Koppel hosts documentaries that appear on the cable network.

Schleiff said the network, presently in 73 million homes, will reach 80 million TV households by year's end.

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