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EDITIONS
 Wednesday, 15 January, 2003, 10:06 GMT
Deal expected for West Wing return
The West Wing stars at the Emmy Awards 2001
The West Wing has won a host of awards
Television executives are close to agreeing a deal to keep political drama The West Wing on air for up to three more series, according to a report.

The Los Angeles Times reported that United States TV network NBC is prepared to pay the show's makers, Warner Bros Television, between $5m (3.1m) and $7m (4.4m) per episode if it returns.

TOP TV FEES PER EPISODE
ER - $13m
Friends - $10m
The West Wing - $6m
The Sopranos - $4m
Buffy - $2.4m
Reported fees paid to production companies
These figures put the cost of the show up from $2m (1.25m) per episode under the current deal, the paper said.

The last series to be covered by the current deal is the fourth, which ends in the US in May.

Most key cast members already have negotiated contracts covering the duration of the deal, the LA Times reported.

The show stars Martin Sheen as the US president - although viewing figures have slipped from the show's peak.

It is now 15th most popular show on prime-time TV, its lowest level since its first series.

But in September, it was named best drama series at the prestigious Emmy Awards for the third year in a row.

Deadline

NBC and Warner Bros Television declined to comment and terms of the new deal are still being finalised, the LA Times said.

The two sides are hoping to reach a deal before Saturday, when NBC executives are due to meet TV critics and reporters in Hollywood, according to the paper.

Although the show's fee per episode is likely to soar, it will still not match the levels reached by other hit series like ER and Friends.

The makers of ER were commanding $13m (8.1m) per episode at its peak, the LA Times said, while Friends will reportedly be worth $10m (6.25m) per episode for a 10th series.

See also:

19 Dec 02 | TV and Radio
23 Sep 02 | TV and Radio
30 Aug 02 | TV and Radio
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05 Nov 01 | TV and Radio
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