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Wednesday, 20 February, 2002, 20:18 GMT
Channel 4 lands Simpsons
The Simpsons - Matt Groening
Coming soon to Channel 4: The Simpsons
Channel 4 has won the rights to broadcast US cartoon The Simpsons after the BBC pulled out of a multi-million pound bidding war.

BBC Two has screened The Simpsons for the past six years, but channel controller Jane Root pulled out of negotiations last week because she felt she was unable to justify spending licence-payers' money on a new deal.

Channel 5 had hoped to pick up the rights to the show, but were pipped to the deal by Channel 4, which will show new episodes from the forthcoming 12th and 13th series of the show.

Each episode has cost 100,000 to screen until now, but a bidding war pushed the rate up to a reported 700,000.

Terrestrial rights

Sky One has had pay-TV rights to the show since it began on its sister Fox network in 1989, but BBC Two snapped up terrestrial rights in the mid-1990s.

The Simpsons
Sky One still holds pay-TV rights
Currently, the BBC has rights to show six of the 13 series of the cartoon, which features the comic misadventures of Marge, Homer, Bart and Lisa.

Those rights include three series which will be new to BBC Two, and the corporation can continue showing the programme until 2006.

But now Channel 4 has also won the rights to show repeats, and can start showing new episodes from 2004.

'Excited'

Channel 4 director of programmes Tim Gardam said: "We are very excited to have secured the rights to what is broadly recognised as one of TV s most creative, original and brilliant shows.

"The Simpsons will help reinforce Channel 4's appeal with young and upmarket audiences."

The network's controller of programme acqusitions June Dromgoole - who clinched the deal - added: "The Simpsons is a natural fit with Channel 4's long-standing tradition of showcasing the best of US television. It is one of the most enduring and successful series in television history and its popularity with British audiences is self-evident."

Channel 5's chief executive, Dawn Airey, said she was "obviously disappointed" to have lost out on the chance to show The Simpsons.

A BBC spokesman told BBC News Online at the weekend that the corporation pulled out of talks following "vastly inflated bids" from its rivals.

See also:

17 Feb 02 | TV and Radio
BBC quits Simpsons talks
03 Feb 02 | Scotland
Simpsons offer 'moral orientation'
31 Jan 02 | TV and Radio
Simpsons 'more interesting' than Royalty
28 Aug 01 | TV and Radio
Simpsons tops kids' TV poll
01 May 01 | TV and Radio
The Simpsons keep 3m voices
22 Jun 00 | Entertainment
Homer and Bart head for Britain
14 Feb 00 | Entertainment
Death hits The Simpsons
13 Jan 00 | Entertainment
Wahooo! Simpsons celebrate 10 years
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