UPN, WB to shut down; new network formed

Leslie Moonves, left, President and CEO of CBS Corporation, Barry Meyer, center, Chairman and CEO of Warner Bros. Entertainment, and Dennis FitzSimons, Chairman and CEO of Tribune Company, react to questions during a press conference after announcing the creation of the CW Television Network.

The Associated Press
Published: Tuesday, January 24, 2006 at 3:14 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 24, 2006 at 3:14 p.m.

Two small, struggling television networks, UPN and WB, will shut down this fall, and their parent companies plan to form a new network called The CW using programming and other assets from each of them.

The announcement was made Tuesday by executives from CBS Corp., which owns UPN, and Warner Bros., a unit of Time Warner Inc., which owns most of WB.

Both UPN and WB had struggled to compete against larger rivals in the broadcast TV business, including Walt Disney Co.'s ABC, News Corp.'s Fox, General Electric Co.'s NBC and CBS Corp.'s CBS.

The new network will launch in the fall, the executives said, when both UPN and WB will shut down. It will be a 50-50 partnership between Warner Bros. and CBS, and the network will be carried on stations owned by the Tribune Co., a minority owner of WB.

Altogether, the 16 Tribune stations and the 12 UPN stations owned by CBS will give the new network coverage in almost half of the country, the executives said. The executives said they hoped to sign up new affiliates in the rest of the country by the time The CW launches.

Among the Tribune's TV stations that will join the new network are its flagship WGN in Chicago as well as WPIX in New York, and KTLA in Los Angeles. The Tribune Co. will relinquish its 22.5 percent stake in WB and will receive a 10-year affiliation agreement with the new network.

Leslie Moonves, chief executive of CBS Corp., said the new network will air 30 hours of programming seven days a week aimed in part at young audiences.

The plan includes two hours of programs in prime time each night Monday through Friday and three hours on Sunday evening. It will also offer programming on weekday and Sunday afternoons, and five hours of children's programs on Saturday morning.

Barry Meyer, the head of Warner Bros., said the network would be run by the current executives of UPN and WB.

The CW will be run by Dawn Ostroff, who will be in charge of programming, and John Maatta will oversee the business side as chief operating officer. Maatta had been COO of WB, and Ostroff was president of UPN.

The new network gets its name from the first letters of its parent's names _ C for CBS and W for Warner Bros.

CBS shares rose 86 cents, or 3.3 percent, to $26.68 in afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange, while Time Warner shares rose 15 cents to $17.24.

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