Tuesday, January 24, 2006


It's tough being the fifth and sixth broadcast television network in the U.S., so after September, there's going to be one less over-air network.

CBS-owned UPN and the Time Warner (Warner Brothers)-owned WB Network will be merging by the start of coming fall TV season. The new network will be known as "The CW Network". An official press release says it'll air in many major markets on CBS' UPN owned-and-operated stations and Tribune's O&O WB stations, with Tribune hosting the network in the largest markets like New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.

What isn't known at this early stage is how this affects markets like Cleveland, where neither the UPN or WB stations is owned by Tribune or CBS. Locally, Raycom's WUAB/43 "UPN 43" and Winston Broadcasting's WBNX/55 "Cleveland's WB" are the stations involved.

An early guess could have CW landing on 43, but we're not ready to stand out on that limb just yet. Winston, owned by well-known televangelist Rev. Ernest Angley, has been pretty serious about its affiliation with The WB, and has managed to run the place like a major market WB affiliate...despite its unusual owner. It's also been quite aggressive about picking up shows off the syndication market.

On the other hand, a lot of these deals are put together among station groups. Raycom currently owns five other UPN affiliates besides WUAB, and a WB Network affiliate. With major companies like CBS and Time Warner driving this bus, it may be difficult for a locally-owned single station like WBNX to wedge its way between those companies and another 7-affiliate group owner like Raycom.

One thing losing The WB could do - it could clear the way for Angley to move his religious talk show "The Ninety and Nine Club" back to its original 9 PM slot. We'll see in the next few months if that's important to him...

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