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Station cancels games

September 7, 1988

‘Jeopardy!,’ ‘Wheel’ too costly, says KHQ

By Tom Sowa
The Spokesman-Review

Alex Trebek, Pat Sajak and Vanna White, hosts of the TV game shows “Jeopardy!” and “Wheel of Fortune,” have been put out to pasture – for Spokane-area viewers anyway.

Game-watchers here who’ve become accustomed to White turning board squares or Trebek querying contestants have to adjust their viewing habits.

Both shows ran in their evening spots for the last time Friday. KHQ (Channel 6) decided against renewing its contracts for the programs.

Viewers this week got old TV shows reruns and a Billy Graham Crusade instead of cash giveaways and tricky questions for show contestants.

Jack Reber, president and general manager of KHQ, said the station had a two-letter answer to a new contract from the show’s syndicator. The answer was “N-O.”

The key sore spots cited by Reber were money and length of commitment required by the shows’ syndicator, King World.

For the next two weeks KHQ will schedule makeshift programs in the two evening slots vacated by the game shows. After the telecast of the Summer Olympics, KHQ will replace “Wheel” and “Jeopardy!” with game shows, Reber said.

He admitted both shows were still moneymakers. During their five-year run on KHQ, “Wheel” and “Jeopardy!” dominated station ratings for their time slots in this area.

King World wanted an undisclosed increase over what KHQ now pays, plus an extended contract of at least three years. Most syndicated shows are offered on a yearly basis, Reber said.

“The terms were also out of reach of other stations here,” Reber said. King World has struck out so far in winning the interest of any other Spokane station in the shows.

The New York- and Los Angeles-based syndicator won’t reveal terms of program contracts. Lee Leddy, a King World sales representative, said negotiations with other Spokane stations were continuing.

Also dropped by KHQ was the Saturday evening telecast of “Wheel of Fortune.”

Fans of “Wheel” can still watch the bubbly White and the witty Sajak on the daytime version of the show, carried at 10 a.m. by KHQ. That program is carried by the NBC network and isn’t affected by the King World contract.

Programmers at KREM-TV (Channel 2) say they’re not interested in either show. KREM’s new fall lineup is expensive enough already – featuring the newly released syndicated reruns of “The Cosby Show,” “Cheers” and “Night Court.”

Bob Hamacher, general manager of KAYU, Spokane’s independent station, also passed on the two game shows. “They don’t fit our format, we don’t have game shows,” he said. The shows’ primary viewers tend to be 50 years and older, he said.

Steve Herling, general manager of KXLY-TV (Channel 4), said the decision to drop the shows may be beneficial for the entire TV market here. “For the price they’d have to pay, it got to the point where KHQ had to look at what it was getting in return.” KHQ’s decision could help slow down the excessive increases faced by area stations in acquiring programs, Herling said.

Reber said there’s an outside chance King World and KHQ could renew the shows in the future. “We never close the door completely,” he said. “But their present offer was unacceptable to us,” he said.

Wednesday, September 7, 1988



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