Where Talk Is Cheap And So Are Sitcoms And Game Shows

There won't be a lot of happy campers at the National Association of Television Program Executives sales convention in New Orleans, which kicks off on Jan. 14. Sure, such industry heavyweights as Paramount Communications Inc. and King World Productions Inc. won't be sweating it. But most TV syndicators aren't too thrilled at the state of the $3 billion marketplace. After a decade of torrid growth (chart), prices for their offerings are rolling back to 1984-85 levels. Why? "There are just too many shows and too few time slots for them to fill," explains Barry Thurston, president of syndication for Columbia Pictures Television.

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