Earlier this month, it was revealed that FOX would be quitting the Saturday morning cartoon scene. In a recent report by 4Kids Entertainment (the company responsible for children’s programming on the FOX network) detailing their third quarter 2008 earnings, 4Kids CEO Alfred Kahn explained: “[Our] agreement with FOX will end on December 31, 2008 rather than at the end of the 2008-2009 broadcast season in September 2009.”

Earlier this year, 4Kids claimed that FOX owed them approximately $13 million, for not keeping their end of their deal, which required the network to broadcast the children’s block in at least 90% of their affiliates on Saturday mornings. FOX said they didn’t owe 4Kids anything, and as a result, 4Kids decided not to pay $13 million of the $20 million it cost the company to operate the block annually. Initially, the 4Kids block was set to air until September 2009. However, after negotiations, it was decided that 4Kids and FOX would end their contract early, even though 4Kids would still have to cough up their $13 million. In the end, 4Kids would not have to pay the $15 million it would cost to continue the block through most of 2009.

Kahn concluded “We believe that the settlement is favorable for both companies and enables 4Kids, beginning in early 2009, to focus resources on our five-hour block of children’s Saturday morning television on The CW Network.”

Times have definitely changed. While 4Kids will continue to program the children’s Saturday block on The CW, it still is surprising to see FOX calling it quits for good, especially since they were among the highest rated networks in the early-to-mid 1990s, and recently had good ratings on the 4Kids Saturday block. FOX plans to give 2 hours of the 4 hour Saturday block back to affiliates, while the latter half will be replaced by a weekend infomercial block. An era has ended, indeed.