WCIU picks up "Old Christine"

Sinclair also picks up sitcom; double run could air in prime, displacing My Network TV shows

WCIU-TV here in Chicago has picked up the off-network syndication rights to The Old Adventures of New Christine from Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution for airing beginning in the fall of 2010.

The Weigel-owned station is expected to air the show twice a day on a cash-plus-barter basis, with two minutes held back by Warner Bros. to sell to national advertisers.

The show stars Seinfeld alum Julia-Louis Dreyfus as a single mom.

Christine was also sold to Tribune’s WPIX-TV in New York and KTLA in Los Angeles, but obviously was passed by WGN-TV in Chicago. The off-net sitcom received a big boost by being acquired by Sinclair Broadcast Group, who owns 50+ stations.

There are reports Sinclair could drop My Network TV to strip Christine in prime-time, along with recently acquired syndicated reruns of Entourage and Curb Your Enthusiasm, which were sold to Tribune (including WGN) for 2010. According to a recent government filing, Sinclair was “considering their options we have for programming” once the group’s deal with My Network TV ends next season.

Sinclair owns My Network TV affiliates in Milwaukee, Baltimore, Tampa, Birmingham, and Raleigh, N.C., among others.

My Network TV is scrapping original programming next season (execpt for WWE Smackdown on Fridays) and is airing syndicated repeat programming instead.

If Sinclair dumps My Network TV for syndicated programming it can run on its own, it will likely mean the end of the programming service.

How big is Sinclair’s influence? Five years ago, 20 of its stations canceled the floundering On-Air With Ryan Seacrest talk show strip, forcing Twentieth Television to pull the plug on the series in first-run syndication.