Time Warner/CBS Joint Venture, CW Television Network, to Launch in Fall

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- CBS Corp. and Warner Bros. Entertainment will merge their broadcast TV operations under one banner, the CW. The move will create a fifth broadcast network to compete with Walt Disney Co.’s ABC, General Electric’s NBC, News Corp.’s Fox and CBS itself. The plan is to launch the new network this fall, the companies said today.
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Joint venture
The new broadcasting network will be a joint venture between Warner Bros. and CBS, with each company owning 50%. UPN and the WB will continue to air their programming independently of each other until the fall.

In order to secure major market distribution for CW, Tribune Broadcasting has agreed separately to sign 10-year affiliation agreements with UPN that will extend to the new network.

With Tribune's 16 major market stations and the 12 CBS-owned UPN major market affiliates, CW will have distribution in 48% of the country. The remainder of the network's distribution system will be a combination of selected current UPN and WB stations. CBS and Time Warner said they expect full distribution of the new network to exceed 95% of the country.

Dawn Ostroff, currently president of UPN, will become president of entertainment, while John Maatta, currently chief operating officer of WB, becomes chief operating officer of CW.

Viable entity
"This new network will serve the public with high-quality programming and maintain our ongoing commitment to our diverse audience," Leslie Moonves, president-CEO, CBS Corp., said in a statement. "It will clearly be greater than the sum of its parts, delivering excellent demographics to advertisers, and building a strong new affiliate body. ... 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.

"For many years UPN had financial losses, but under CBS's guidance, UPN has been able to effect a dramatic creative turnaround in a short period of time," the statement went on to say.

Jeff Bewkes, president-chief operating officer of Time Warner, echoed Mr. Moonves’ assessment that the two merged will create a stronger business, saying, "This 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.”

13 hours of prime time
The CW will incorporate The WB's current scheduling model, which consists of a six-night, 13-hour prime-time lineup, and will choose some of its programming from current UPN and WB shows, including reality shows like UPN’s "America's Next Top Model" and WB's "Beauty and the Geek," as well as shows including the WB's "Smallville," "Gilmore Girls," "Supernatural" and UPN's "Veronica Mars,” "Everybody Hates Chris" and "Girlfriends." WWE's "Smackdown" on UPN is also expected to play a role in the schedule. The CW also plans to broadcast the schedule of children's programming now known as Kids' WB!, a five-hour original programming block on Saturday mornings.

The 16 Tribune-affiliated stations will include Albany, N.Y.; Boston; Chicago; Dallas; Denver; Hartford, Conn.; Houston; Indianapolis; Los Angeles; Miami; New Orleans; New York; Portland, Ore.; San Diego; St. Louis; and Washington. The 12 CBS Station Group TV markets will include Atlanta; Detroit; Norfolk, Va.; Oklahoma City; Philadelphia; Pittsburgh; Providence; Sacramento, Calif.; San Francisco; Seattle; Tampa; and West Palm Beach, Fla.

Together, these top two station groups cover the top 13 TV markets, 20 of the top 25 TV markets and have a total coverage area of more than 48% of the country.

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