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Will "My Name Is Earl" Head to TNT for a Lower Price?

The latest potential shift in a game of programming musical chairs that's been going on this week is that TNT might pick up the sitcom "My Name Is Earl" which has been the subject of a "Twit-ition" to keep it on air. (In a delicious side note, when NBC decided to drop the series, "Earl" producer, Greg Garcia, likened it to "being thrown off the Titanic" because of NBC's lackluster ratings) The speculation about a possible TNT move is based on a comment by Turner Entertainment Networks president Steve Koonin that the network would be willing to take a look at the series.

The sticking point, according to The Los Angeles Times, which published the story, would probably be the licensing fee. "Earl", which is produced by 20th Century Fox Television, gets a higher fee at NBC than it ever would on a cable network. How much higher? Simon Applebaum, a long-time reporter on the cable scene and producer and host of the online radio program, "Tomorrow Will Be Televised," told me his estimate would be that the fee could be ten to fifteen percent less than what it was at NBC.

Interestingly, a TNT deal for "Earl" would be somewhat counter to a trend that was laid out nicely by The New York Times' Bill Carter, earlier in the week: that networks have been willing to pick up shows on other networks if the shows in question, like "Medium" -- which is moving from NBC to CBS -- are produced by the network they are going to. In the case of "Medium", as one example, CBS stands to benefit not just by picking up the show, but from the long-term revenue of its syndication. This had led to speculation that "Earl" would go to Fox, but there's no sign that's happening.

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