Thursday, March 02, 2006

A CW/My Network TV Twist in Cincinnati

Anyone hoping to follow conventional wisdom (er, "CW") in the race to sign up affiliates for the new CW Network and FOX's "My Network TV" is getting dizzy about now.

Just a day after WBNX/55 became the Cleveland market's outlet for The CW starting this fall, the expected outlet for that new network in Cincinnati turned left instead of right. Sinclair's WSTR/64 (WB) will instead line up with the My Network TV folks, along with 16 other Sinclair stations in other markets.

Assuming that there won't be a dual affiliation with The CW, which we'd consider unlikely, the move brings a giant sigh of relief to one Elliot Block, owner of Cincinnati low-power UPN affiliate WBQC-CA/38. If WSTR had signed up with CW, it could well have been a death warrant for the struggling WBQC...which managed to get on satellite (DirecTV) and most area cable systems.

The move, assuming WBQC does not somehow lose The CW, would likely assure the LPTVer full-time carriage on the local Time Warner Cable system...which has carried the station only in evenings on an otherwise used public access and information channel. Not only would they have the new network, but Time Warner is actually a co-owner of The CW with CBS Corporation.

We're still trying to figure out what role reverse compensation played in Cleveland's "sub-four network" competition, with aggressive locally-owned WBNX/55 swiping The CW from Raycom's WUAB/43. Whether Raycom was mulling over the compensation issues or not, or whether it even got the chance to counter offer, WBNX would appear to have bowled over the CW folks...and the station's high WB network ratings and network compliance would certainly help in that regard. In the end, WBNX fit what the CW folks were looking for...almost to a T.

But like Raycom, Sinclair is also another of those "cheap" broadcasters. In many markets, they either don't have a full high-definition digital TV outlet, or are not on various cable systems in HDTV. In Sacramento, where Sinclair used to own CBS affiliate KOVR/13, the network bought the station...and immediately had to spend millions to upgrade the station to top-25 market standards.

You can almost hear Sinclair's David Smith drooling in a statement in the above Broadcasting & Cable story: "Given the great success of Fox over the years and their demonstrated history of thinking outside the box, we believe that over time this new network model will become a standard in the industry."

He all but said "this new network model" means it includes no station compensation to the network, what, with CBS and other major networks themselves actively talking about reverse compensation as being the new standard.


Anonymous said...

Did anyone else find it odd that Ch. 43 for years refused to even acknowledge its affiliation with UPN, instead using on-air IDs such as "home team" and "the block"? Why would ANY network want to be associated with that? Not to mention all the endless hours of paid-programming. Their weekends are more like home-shopping than TV entertainment.

Anonymous said...

I do agree with that. I think that ch 43 would be better suited as a station that carries all of ch 19's junk than a actual network station. I know this may sound stupid but what is the chance that either ch 67 or one of the rim shots make a play for my network tv and let ch 43 go independent? I just do not see ch 43 runing that network and fox not having a full- power my network TV station in Cleveland. As for ch 64 in Cinci getting my network TV I am not shocked since most of Sincrap's I mean Sinclair stations are fox stations. I heard some where that ch 38 was building or at least trying to build a full-power digital station. Would that help the CW or would that hurt the CW?But what about the bigger problem that the CW now has. It has been reported a few weeks ago that LIN Television, owners of UPN stations in Buffalo, Columbus, and Indianplois among other places are happy about the idea of going to be independent and that they have a friend in FOX and that FOX would not leave them out in the cold. Does this mean that at least in Columbus the CW will be odd network out and my network TV be in?