UPN TURNS TO STEIN FOR AD SALES

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NBC veteran stepping into high-presssure positionUPN took another step in its development as a network with the formation of an ad sales operation that will be run by Perri Stein.

But Ms. Stein, who rose to VP-news sales during a 17-year tenure at NBC, may be in for a surprise. Her new job as senior VP-advertiser sales, while more prestigious, also brings a lot more pressure.

"I was looking for someone who would wake up thinking about selling UPN and then go to bed thinking they haven't done it well enough," said Lucie Salhany, UPN's president-CEO. "I chose Perri because she got it right away."

IS SHE READY?

Immediate reaction in the agency community was that while Ms. Stein is very capable, she may not be ready for the task of overseeing a full network sales force.

"I like her very much," said one network buyer, "But I wonder if she knows what she is in for. Lucie [Salhany] is smart and tough; she takes no prisoners. Perri has to create a sales infrastructure, budgets and all the rest, and I wonder if that's something she's had to do before on this scale."

Countered Ms. Stein, "The bottom line is that I have had the responsibility of producing money and that's not going to change at UPN."

A number of media buyers said UPN wanted to start its own sales force because Ms. Salhany expected the network to bring in more money than the $100 million sold during the upfront.

UPN sales had been handled by Paramount's syndication ad unit, Premier Advertiser Sales.

Ms. Salhany said the sales unit was effective at the launch phase, but "we're now at the point where we need people to focus all their attention on UPN. Having someone who's a specialist will bring us better results."

4TH NIGHT OF PROGRAMMING

UPN will likely add a fourth night of programming in the next 12 months, Ms. Salhany said; the 2-year-old network currently programs Monday through Wednesday during prime time and Sunday mornings. The network, known primarily as the home of "Star Trek: Voyager," will continue to target a young, urban audience.

"I think we've finally found ourselves," Ms. Salhany said. "There were a number of shows, early on, which confused the identity of the network. I think we're finally past that."

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