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UPN & The WB Merge To CW

UPN & The WB Merge To CW

The WB and UPN television networks will merge this fall into the CW Television Network, a move that could draw more people to one local station.
The new CW network, to launch in September 2006, will be a 50-50 joint venture of UPN parent company CBS Corp. and Time Warner Inc. ,which controls the WB.

Tribune Co., which holds a minority stake in the WB, will not have any ownership interest in the newly merged broadcaster, which will combine such shows as UPN's "Everybody Hates Chris" and the WB's "Gilmore Girls" under one roof reports Reuters

"The CW is going to be a real competitor, a destination for young audiences, diverse audiences, and a real favorite with advertisers," said Leslie Moonves, president and CEO of CBS, which has owned UPN since 2002. "The CW will be able to do something truly remarkable: program already-hit shows every single day of the week, programs that consistently rank No. 1 or No. 2 in their time slots in the most coveted young-adult demographic."

UPN and the WB, both formed 11 years ago, have each struggled to build their ratings and achieve profitability with programming aimed at younger viewers than the 18-to-49-year-old audience regarded as the advertising preference for the Big Four broadcasters -- ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox.

During November sweeps, UPN averaged about 3.7 million viewers nightly and The WB about 3.5 million, meaning they were viewed in fewer than 3 percent of U.S. households, both down slightly from a year earlier. By comparison, No. 1 CBS was viewed in more than 9 percent of households on any average night, reaching 14.6 million viewers.

"Five might be one broadcast network too many," said Bob Thompson, head of Syracuse University's Center for the Study of Popular Television.

"UPN was approaching a point where we were hoping to break even, and we were getting close," CBS Chief Executive Les Moonves told reporters. "The long-range plan looked far better with this (new network)."

The companies expect the newly merged network to reach 95 percent of the country reports Seattle Times. The CW will copy The WB's prime-time scheduling approach of airing shows from 8 to 10 p.m. weeknights and 7 to 10 p.m. Sundays and offering no programming on Saturday nights, the weakest viewing night. The new network also will continue a Saturday morning block of children's shows, now known as "Kids' WB!"














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