Challenge to CBS/Time Warner’s CW

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NEW YORK ( -- News Corp. honchos launched their first real attack on CBS Corp./Time Warner joint venture, CW, outlining their plan for a second broadcast network named My Network TV.
News Corp. plans to sell its new vision to station groups across the country in a head-to-head battle with CW.

Peter Chernin, News Corp. president-chief operating officer, offered up a fresh economic model of broadcast TV in an attempt to woo third-party local station groups into backing News Corp. as opposed to CW. Mr. Chernin peppered a high-energy press conference in New York with plenty of reminders about the dual successes of the Fox broadcast network and cable's Fox News Channel.

“We don’t have the burden of an old business model,” Mr. Chernin said. “We will base it on stripped programming, not a checkerboard that’s difficult to schedule. ... We are going to win and he’s going to do it,” he said, introducing Fox Television Stations Chairman Roger Ailes.

Mr. Ailes said he was busy writing CBS CEO Les Moonves a thank-you note for launching CW. “Losing is highly overrated as a learning experience. I believe we will win,” he concluded.

Low overhead
My Network TV plans to offer potential partners a low-overhead model with a much simpler program schedule. It is expected to be profitable on launch, said the executives, who were joined by station group CEO Jack Abernethy, with 24% of the country covered by Fox-owned stations in the 10 major markets. The network is aimed at the 18- to 49-year-old demographic. The name ties the new network to the recently acquired social networking Web site, though no immediate synergies were offered by executives.

News Corp. executives suggested they were not left flat-footed with the January announcement about the launch of CW, claiming they already had plans in the works. Mr. Ailes said he had told Mr. Moonves during contract renegotiations for UPN that the station was not helping them make money.

In each of the 10 major markets where Fox stations will lose its UPN affiliation as a result of the CW launch, News Corp. will put in place an individually tailored brand identity with nationally shared programming. For instance, in the New York market, the station will be known as My TV Nine, or My TV New York.

New Corp. plans to sell its new vision to station groups across the country in a head-to-head battle with CW. Both groups are out selling their separate visions of the future of broadcast TV.

The network will kick off with two English-language "telenovelas" starring glamorous actors in soapy-style series, titled “Desire” and “Secrets.”
The CW model
CW is a joint venture between CBS’s UPN and Time Warner’s the WB. The two media conglomerates decided to merge their struggling networks into a single national service back in January. They are asking affiliates to pay to be part of the service, in what is known as “reverse compensation.’

CW, for its part, claims not to be worried. “We wish their program-syndication service well,” said a CW spokesman. “Based on our roster of proven hit series that consistently rank No. 1 or No. 2 in young-adult demographics, the CW will uniquely benefit and serve advertisers, stations and viewers alike.”

My Network TV will make its debut Sept. 5 and will air programming Monday to Saturday from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. with 12 hours of original content per week. The network will kick off with two programs starring glamorous actors in a soap-style series. The two English-language "telenovelas" are titled “Desire” and “Secrets” and will fill the entire block, Monday through Saturday in the beginning. Each show is designed with a 65-episode, 13-week story arc to keep viewers coming back.

Programming schedule
Also in development are a handful of new reality series, including one unnamed show from Fremantle (which produces the “American Idol” format around the world). Another show under consideration is “Catwalk,” a new take on UPN’s existing hit, “America’s Next Top Model,” that will feature professional models pushing their teams of girls. “Transformed” is a reality show that aims to reform bad parents and bad kids, while an investigative crime show from Fox News Channel, called “On the Scene,” is also on the development slate along with two other reality shows, “America’s Brainiest,” which looks for the smartest people in the country, and “Celebrity Love Island,” which offers the opportunity to date a star.

Mr. Abernethy refused to give details about barter arrangements or what the advertising split with stations would be. He also declined to reveal ratings estimates for the new service. He added, however, that advertisers would be interested in the new network because it offered “frequency.” The aim is that viewers will come back night after night for the Monday to Friday strips.

My Network TV will be a joint venture between Fox Television Stations and Twentieth Television. The anchor stations for the new service are: WWOR (New York); KCOP (Los Angeles); WPWR (Chicago); KDFI (Dallas); WDCA (Washington); KTXH (Houston); WFTC (Minneapolis); KUTP (Phoenix); WRBW (Orlando); and WUTB (Baltimore).

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