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The long-running music competition series "American Idol" is coming back for the 2017-2018 season on ABC instead of FOX. USA TODAY

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Fox is unveiling its own new fall schedule, but one of its signature programs is headed to a rival.

American Idol, which had a 15-year run on Fox until it was canceled last May, is making a speedy return early next year on ABC, which bid aggressively to win the competition after its own multiple efforts to copy it failed.

"I feel bad, knowing it's coming back on another network," conceded Fox Television Group chairman-CEO Dana Walden, who said Idol producer FremantleMedia was "determined to get this show back on the air as quickly as possible."  But having spent $25 million to promote last season's farewell, she says, "it felt extremely fraudulent to bring the show back so quickly."

Not to mention what she called the show's 70% ratings decline in the three seasons prior to its last. "We didn't see that excitement and enthusiasm about bringing it back." Instead, in preliminary discussions Fox had suggested returning it in 2020, giving producers time to make several format changes.  But Fremantle "was definitely not interested in that," and made a deal with ABC.

ABC is expected to announce details of its Idol plans on Tuesday when it presents its new lineup to advertisers.

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