Broadcasting and Cable Mention

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The following appeared in Broadcast & Cable on February 12, 1996. The citation is CN adds three series: Broadcasting & Cable; 2/12/96, Vol. 126 Issue 7, p54, 2p.

'Quest,' 'Dexter' and 'Big Bag' are newest entries

Turner Entertainment Networks -- the Cartoon network, TBS and TNT -- will be adding three new shows to its weekly kids programming schedule this year.

The new shows are Dexter's Laboratory, The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest and Big Bag. Scheduled to launch April 29k on Cartoon Network, TNT and TBS, Dexter's Laboratory is the first breakout cartoon series from Turner's "World Premiere Toons" project of shorts and the first Turner short to be expanded into a half-hour episode.

The Cartoon Network and Turner owned animation studio Hanna-Barbera initially will produce six half-hour episodes of the series and are eying it as a possible Monday-Friday strip for 1997. Episodes of Dexter's Laboratory will be paired with a Dexter spin-off: Dial M for Monkey. Turner's Jonny Quest, a second-generation version of the Hanna-Barbera '60s prime time series, will debut weekdays on the Cartoon Network, TBS and TNT starting in late August.

Big Bag, a joint venture with the Children's Television Workshop, will launch June 2 on the Cartoon Network. The show, a weekly, commercial-free hour educational series, is the Children's Television Workshop's first preschool series since Sesame Street. The show will combine five live studio hosts, new Jim Hensen-created Muppets, six animated shorts and music.

The Cartoon Network will be in more than 32 million homes for the new season, up from 8 million homes when it launched four years ago, says TBS's Karl Kuechenmeister.

Kuechenmeister says the kids upfront market for cable has so far not been a "runaway freight train." "I'm not sure it will be as big this year because so many network suppliers are down in their ratings delivery versus last year. It's going to be tough for some of them." But Kuechenmeister predicts "huge" upfront share migrations from networks down in the ratings to thsoe that are up. "Nickelodeon and Turner stand to do the best this year at the expense o Fox, Disney, ABC, CBS, USA and Family Channel," he says.

Nickelodeon this year was again the center of attention, breaking the kids upfront advertising market a week earlier than anyone else (Broadcasting & Cable, Feb. 5) and selling nearly 50% of its inventory of commercial time within the first week, including four prime time deals running through 1998, according to John Popkowski, senior vice president, ad sales, for Nickelodeon parent MTV Networks.

Since Nickelodeon last year cut upfront deals that run through third quarter 197, Nickelodeon executives were taken a bit by surprise by the flurry of interest this year. "We didn't think that we would be this active, but a lot of people approached us wanting to extend their base deals from last year through third quarter 1998," says Popkowski.

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