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The CW Television Network Set to Launch in September 2006

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The CW Television Network


The CW Television Network at a glance
Type Owner Key People Launch Date
Television Broadcast Network CBS Corporation (50%)/Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc. (Time Warner) (50%)  Dawn Ostroff, President of Entertainment
John Maatta,
Chief Operating Officer
September 2006

The CW Television Network, or more casually The CW, is a new television network in the United States set to launch for the 2006 - 07 television season. It will feature a mixture of the programming of the UPN and The WB television networks, which will both cease operations in September 2006 . The network will be a joint venture between CBS Corporation , owner of UPN, and Warner Bros. Entertainment , a subsidiary of Time Warner , majority owner of The WB.

The CW will air programming targeted to younger audiences — a demographic that had been targeted by both The WB and UPN. CBS and Warner Bros. hope that by combining their networks' schedules and station lineups, The CW will strengthen into a fifth "major" broadcast network, competing at the same level as ABC , CBS , NBC and Fox — a stature neither UPN nor The WB has been able to achieve. But unlike the "Big Four" broadcast networks, The CW does not appear to have any current plans to offer news or sports programming to their affiliates.

CBS chairman Les Moonves explained that the name of the new network is an amalgamation of the first initials of CBS and Warner Bros. Moonves joked "we couldn't call it the WC for obvious reasons."   However, an increasing number of network executives and other insiders have privately expressed displeasure with the "CW" name, and say there is a possibility that it will be changed before the planned September launch.

Stations CW will initally be based around 16 WB stations owned by Tribune Company (which will be relinquishing its investment in The WB) and 11 UPN stations owned by CBS. These stations combine to reach 48 percent of the United States. It is estimated that the new network will eventually reach 95 percent of the United States. In markets where both UPN and WB affiliates operate, only one will become a CW affiliate; it has yet to be announced whether any of the second broadcasters in affected markets will become independent or reaffiliate with another network. The initial 27 stations have signed 10 year affiliation agreements with The CW. To date, no other station groups or individual stations have officially been signed with The CW, although many expect to in the near future.  

The WB 100+ Station Group—a system of locally branded cable channels (not actually stations ) present in most Nielsen DMAs with rankings of 100 and lower, with fictional call letters (e.g. WBMK 4 for Marquette, Michigan ). There is not yet word on whether all or just some of these will continue; as it is likely that The CW would rather choose to affiliate over-the-air UPN or independent stations.

While WGN-TV Chicago will be part of the new network, it is presently assumed that its out-of-market superstation feed, which does not currently air WB programming, will not air programs from the CW network.

Programming The new network will adopt the WB's present 30-hour programming schedule. It will provide provide 13 hours of prime-time programming to the newly affiliated stations, 8–10pm Monday to Friday (all times ET/PT) and 7–10pm on Sunday. Programming will also be provided between 5–7pm Sundays (the "Easy View" repeat block), 3–5pm weekday afternoons (currently off-network repeats under the "WB Daytime" banner), and a five-hour Saturday morning animation block (currently known as Kids' WB ).

 The following shows are mentioned in the CW press release and as such are highly likely to be on the CW fall schedule:

Current UPN shows:

America's Next Top Model,  Everybody Hates Chris,  Veronica Mars     WWE Friday Night SmackDown!,  Girlfriends .

Current WB shows:

Beauty and the Geek,  Gilmore Girls,  Reba,  Smallville,  Supernatural

The future of other programming such as the WB's long-running Charmed , a hinted-at spinoff of the combined networks most successful series 7th Heaven , the critically-acclaimed Everwood and popular One Tree Hill is unknown. It has been speculated by producers and cast members of Charmed that season eight was originally scheduled to be the series' final season (which is already in production), thus leaving the show to be the sole property of the former The WB , and their former DVD distributor Paramount Pictures . Starting Valentine's Day 2006, there are increasing rumors that Joss Whedon 's Firefly may be picked up by CW. This is just a few months after the Firefly cast made their big screen debut in the motion picture Serenity . Whedon has downplayed such rumors recently, but does not seem to rule out the possibility entirely of at least a TV movie or miniseries.

Repercussions of the merger

The launch of The CW will most likely cause the largest single shakeup of U.S. broadcast television since the Fox / New World Communications alliance of 1994 and the subsequent launch of UPN and The WB themselves the following year. While it may affect more markets, it is unlikely to cause the same degree of viewer confusion as, it appears, no affiliates of the four major networks will be affected.

In those media markets where there were separate WB and UPN stations, one local station will be left out in the merger, and will have to become an independent station . In some of the smallest markets only one network is present, or both networks' programming are found on a single station, in which case the transition should be relatively straightforward. In other cases, excluding markets served by the Tribune and CBS stations, the affiliation will likely be determined by negotiation.

It is immediately clear that the Fox Television Stations Group , which purchased several UPN affiliates from Chris-Craft Industries (ownership partner of UPN with Paramount Pictures / Viacom from 1995 - 2000 ) in 2002 , will be impacted. Its UPN affiliates in New York ( WWOR ), Los Angeles ( KCOP ), Chicago ( WPWR ) and elsewhere will now become independent stations, as will Tribune stations in Philadelphia ( WPHL ), Atlanta ( WATL ) and Seattle ( KTWB ) and CBS-owned stations such as those in Boston ( WSBK ), Miami ( WBFS ) and Dallas ( KTXA ).

On January 25 , 2006 Fox announced that their remaining Fox-owned UPN affiliates in markets not presently served by CBS or Tribune, including Minneapolis , Orlando , and Phoenix , will also become independents once UPN ceases operations, and immediately began removing all UPN logos and references in many cases from their stations. Some have already begun speculating that Fox may start a second network of its own (perhaps in a joint venture with the Sinclair Broadcast Group depending on how many independents Sinclair ends up with), or else use these stations to help distribute selected syndicated programs.

Tribune will no longer have an ownership stake in the combined network, thus they are no longer responsible for any of The CW's losses. A company representative stated during a conference call the day of the merger announcement that they have no intention of selling their non-CW stations. Tribune also indicated that they would be interested in Fox-developed programming blocks if anything of that nature was proposed for the newly independent ex-WB/UPN stations.

Other stations, especially those already known to be disaffiliating, have reportedly already begun to search for new programming to fill empty timeslots, likely to further boost the fortunes of the syndication industry. On January 26 , 2006 , La Crosse, Wisconsin UPN affiliate KQEG announced that they would cease to be a network affiliate at the end of the programming week, becoming the first known station to drop an affiliation due to the merger.

The disappearance of the WB and UPN will be the first time a major television network has vanished since the collapse of the DuMont Television Network in 1955, but other small broadcast television networks have also ceased operations over the years.

It is possible that some former WB and UPN affiliates could become part of another small network as other small networks look to expand their number of full-power television stations.  To that effect, on February 8, 2005, the Fox Television Stations Group announced it was launching " alternative national programming service this fall" with top syndicators and a flexible, economic approach.

Granite Broadcasting had previously reached an agreement to sell their WB-affiliated stations in San Francisco and Detroit ( KBWB & WDWB , respectively) to AM Media , a unit of private equity firm Acon Investments . With the dissolution of The WB, and with CBS owning UPN stations in both cities that have already been announced as joining The CW, the Granite-AM Media deal could be in jeopardy. As of February 15, Granite has been freed to shop the stations to other intersted parties.  

See also:

The WB


List of CW affiliates 

Press Releases:


Time Warner

Tribune Company