Tuesday, February 12, 2008

ION acquires "M*A*S*H"

ION Television has acquired the broadcast rights to air the classic series M*A*S*H, beginning this fall. The deal effectively ends its syndication run, meaning that the program will no longer be seen locally over WFLD-TV (finally!), which has aired M*A*S*H since it entered syndication way back in 1979.

ION's local affiliate in Chicago is WCPX-Channel 38.

Stations now pretty much use the series as time-period filler, i.e. airing the program after a network sporting event, or sticking it in the overnight hours. The move comes as major TV stations are relying more and more on first-run syndicated programs, news, local programming, recent off-network shows, and infomercials to fill out their schedules.

Meanwhile, ION Television stations (formerly with PAX) and digital subchannel and low-powered stations (including WWME-TV and WMEU-TV and the Retro Television Network) are buying up classic TV programs to fill out their schedules and provide viewers an alternative option.

M*A*S*H ran on CBS from 1972-83 for 255 episodes, and won fourteen Emmy Awards during that time span, with the series finale garnering 104 million viewers on February 28, 1983 - a record that still stands today.

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