CW Parents Emphasize Support of Network

CBS, Warner Bros. Execs Restate Commitment to Joint Venture

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LOS ANGELES (AdAge.com) -- As the CW prepares for next month's launch of its super-hyped drama "90210," the leaders of parent companies CBS Corp. and Warner Bros. are offering an emphatic vote of confidence in the network.
The CW has struggled to get the attention of its core audience of younger viewers, and the Sept. 2 premiere of '90210' will be a critical indicator of how tough the upcoming season will be.
The CW has struggled to get the attention of its core audience of younger viewers, and the Sept. 2 premiere of '90210' will be a critical indicator of how tough the upcoming season will be. Credit: The CW

In a letter to CW employees and affiliates delivered this morning, the executives -- Barry Meyer and Bruce Rosenblum of Warner Bros. and Leslie Moonves and Nancy Tellem of CBS -- acknowledge that building a network is a "difficult proposition" but state flatly that they "are dedicated to the CW" and that they "stand squarely behind you, and are committed to doing what is necessary to ensure the success of the CW venture."

"We support the network, believe in it, and are committed to its future," the executives add later in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by TelevisionWeek, a sibling publication of Ad Age. "All of us must continue to work hard and push every day to aggressively compete in this marketplace. Our success will be born of focused and sustained effort over the course of the next few years."

The letter also makes it clear that the CW is a part of both CBS's and Warner Bros.' business strategies.

"CBS and Warner Bros., through the CW, are collaborating to create valuable content assets and build a network that benefits all our business partners and our respective corporate entities," the executives wrote.

The letter comes just a few weeks after Ms. Tellem and Mr. Rosenblum made an unannounced visit to a meeting of the CW's current programming department. The pop-in was meant to convey the message that CBS and Warner Bros. were on the same page when it came to the network. The missive seems designed to underscore that message and eliminate any talk that CBS and Warner Bros. might have divergent interests.

In May, the Wall Street Journal reported that one of the partners in the CW might abandon the network next year if ratings didn't improve. Like most of the networks, the CW was hit hard by last year's writers strike and saw its ratings among adults 18-49 drop by about 15% last season.

Despite developing some of the most buzzed-about shows of recent years -- "Gossip Girl," "90210," "Aliens in America" -- the CW has struggled to get the attention of its core audience of younger viewers. The Sept. 1 relaunch of "Gossip Girl" and the Sept. 2 premiere of "90210" will be critical indicators of how tough the upcoming season will be.

In their letter, the four executives -- all of whom sit on the CW's board of directors -- went out of their way to point out the CW's accomplishments and to thank staffers for their work.

"We presented Madison Avenue with 'Content Wraps' and 'Quickies,'" they wrote, pointing out advertising formats the network introduced. "We up-ended the American pop culture with the creation of 'Gossip Girl.' Now, The CW has created '90210,' the most anticipated and buzzed-about show of the new television season," the letter states.

"All of this has been supported by the most innovative and talked-about marketing campaigns in recent memory, and along the way we have been embraced by every important constituency from advertisers to affiliates and even the press," the letter said.

The full text of the letter follows:

To Our CW Colleagues:

As summer draws to a close with the network on the eve of the 2008 fall launch, we want to take a moment to thank each and every one of you for all your hard work and dedication.

We recognize that creating any new business is a difficult proposition, and building a new broadcast network is no exception!

As we move forward into the new season, please know that CBS and Warner Bros., are dedicated to the CW. We stand squarely behind you, and are committed to doing what is necessary to ensure the success of the CW venture.

During the last two years all of us have worked very hard to create and build the CW. In that time we have had numerous successes: We presented Madison Avenue with "Content Wraps" and "Quickies". We up-ended the American pop culture with the creation of "Gossip Girl". Now, The CW has created "90210," the most anticipated and buzzed-about show of the new television season.

All of this has been supported by the most innovative and talked-about marketing campaigns in recent memory, and along the way we have been embraced by every important constituency from advertisers to affiliates and even the press.

CBS and Warner Bros., through the CW, are collaborating to create valuable content assets and build a network that benefits all our business partners and our respective corporate entities.

For those of you who were not in the recent CW current meeting with Nancy and Bruce, please let us state again: We support the network, believe in it, and are committed to its future. All of us must continue to work hard and push everyday to aggressively compete in this marketplace. Our success will be born of focused and sustained effort over the course of the next few years.

We thank you again, and please take a moment to appreciate the talents and accomplishments of every individual in every department at The CW. Best of luck to us all in the 2008-09 season!

Sincerely,
Barry Meyer
Leslie Moonves
Bruce Rosenblum
Nancy Tellem

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Josef Adalian writes for Crain Communications' TV Week.
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