CBS affiliates hear rebuilding plans

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The CBS affiliates meeting in Los Angeles got off on an apologetic note Thursday, with recently installed CBS Broadcast Group President Peter Lund citing a laundry list of "blame," some of which he conceded that the network deserved. But Mr. Lund also went on the attack, chastising what he indicated is unfounded coverage of speculative developments at the network, including an impending merger or acquisition. "Every day brings some new version of that story, whether it's Fortune, or The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal, or even The New York Times Book Review."

Mr. Lund conceded that CBS doesn't yet have all the answers to the questions concerning its future, but that its primary near-term focus is on rebuilding its core prime-time schedule with an emphasis on younger demographics and a focus on building strong lead-ins to affiliates' late news programs.

Mr. Lund also addressed the unceremonious firing of former evening news co-anchor Connie Chung, noting that it was a business decision to end what he termed an experiment.

"The decision to put her in that co-anchor spot two years ago was a business decision. The decision to return to a single anchor was a business decision," he said.

At an impromptu meeting on Wednesday with CBS affiliates, Chairman-CEO Laurence Tisch side-stepped the persistent question about a CBS sale or merger and called on the affiliates to support Mr. Lund in his efforts to rebuild the network.

On Friday, affiliates will get an overview of CBS' 1995-96 marketing and promotion initiatives. The network is expected to unveil a series of new localized affiliate versions of its network Eye On The Web Internet site.

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