CBS Corp. and Warner Bros. Entertainment announced plans to shutter the UPN and WB networks to form a new fifth broadcasting network called The CW, to be launched in the fall of 2006.
The announcement was made by executives from CBS Corp., which owns UPN, and Warner Bros., a unit of Time Warner Inc., which owns WB. The new network will be a 50-50 partnership between Warner Bros. and CBS.
Executives said the WB and UPN will continue to broadcast their respective network schedules independently until the fall.
The new network will be carried on stations owned by the Tribune Co., a minority owner of the WB network, and on CBS'UPN affiliates. Tribune Broadcasting and the affiliates have agreed to sign 10-year affiliation agreements with the new network.
The combination of Tribune's 16 major market stations and the 12 CBS-owned UPN major market affiliates give The CW coverage in 48 percent of the country in the top 13 television markets. The remainder of the network's distribution system will be a combination of selected current UPN and The WB stations. The full distribution of the new network is expected to exceed 95 percent of the country.
The network will program 30 hours a week over seven days for its affiliated stations.
Dawn Ostroff, currently president of UPN, will become president of entertainment for The CW and John Maatta, currently chief operating officer of The WB, will become chief operating officer of The CW. All programming, marketing, scheduling, publicity and research functions will report to Ostroff; Maatta will be responsible for the network's business operations.
"With this move, we will be creating a viable entity, one well-equipped to compete, thrive and serve all our many publics in this multi-channel media universe," said Leslie Moonves, president and chief executive of CBS Corp., in a statement.
Jeff Bewkes, president & chief operating officer of Time Warner, said the new network will have "all the strategic asset value as an outlet for our programming that The WB presented us, but with a much firmer and more secure financial present and future."
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