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ABC (US) puts faith in ambitious programming

ABC (US)ABC said on Saturday it wanted to be the place for ambitious TV programing in a busy market place where viewers are shrinking and costs are rising.

ABC is launching a bumper 11 new shows for the upcoming 2009-10 prime-time TV schedule in a bid to climb up from its current third place among the four leading U.S. TV networks.

“We have to remain ambitious,” Steve McPherson, president of ABC Entertainment told TV reporters at a presentation outlining the network’s new line-up.

“We have always succeeded when we have been ambitious and really pushed the limits, whether it was ‘Desperate Housewives‘ which people said was about 40-year old women, or ‘Lost’. Both shows have been very fortuitous creatively, in ratings and financially.

“There is so much great product out there. You have to be ambitious. You have to break through the clutter,” McPherson said.

In a bold move, ABC is completely overhauling its Wednesday night line-up, bringing in three new family-based sitcoms with veteran favorites like Kelsey Grammer of “Frasier” fame and Patricia Heaton formerly of  “Everybody Loves Raymond”.

The network, which saw a three percent drop in audiences in the 2009-09 season, will also air two female-centric shows later on Wednesdays — “Cougar Town” starring former “Friends” star Courteney Cox, and “Eastwick” with Rebecca Romjin.

Other new offerings include an expensive action-filled sci-fi mystery series “Flash Forward” and a reality show for budding business entrepreneurs called “Shark Tank”.

“We realize it is absolutely a challenge (for viewers) to watch one new show, let alone a whole night of new shows,” McPherson said.

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