By Stephen M. Silverman
January 15, 2003 04:32 PM

Martin Sheen can keep the fancy desk.

Despite some slipping ratings this season, especially when it ran opposite ABC’s “The Bachelor,” NBC is closing in on a new deal with Warner Bros. Television to hold on to “The West Wing” — starring Sheen, 62, as U.S. President Josiah Bartlet — for another two or three years, at least.

The negotiations should be completed by the end of this week, reports the New York Daily News, with Warner Bros. (which, like PEOPLE, is part of AOL Time Warner) expected to collect $6 million per episode from NBC for the political series.

Currently, the network pays Warners $2 million per episode, which, says the Daily News, is not sufficient to cover the studio’s production costs on what is one of TV’s most expensive shows.

Initial reports said that Warners was seeking $10 million per episode from NBC. But that was before the ratings slippage.

Even so, this season the show is averaging 14.9 million viewers (albeit down from 17.2 million last season) — and those numbers represent “the most upscale audience of any show on television,” says the Daily News, “making it highly attractive to advertisers.”

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