WESTINGHOUSE LIFTS CBS

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CBS' self-proxy was a smart financial move that buys the network time to line up a solid suitor in the wake of its failed merger with QVC.

But last week's strategic alliance with Westinghouse Broadcasting Co. provides the momentum and stability Black Rock needs regardless of who takes control. The alliance is also a potentially devastating blow for CBS competitors, particularly NBC.

As part of the deal, the five Group W TV stations signed 10-year affiliation agreements with CBS, including two NBC stations (WBZ, Boston, and KYW, Philadelphia) and ABC affiliate WJZ, Baltimore.

The deal was a particular blow for NBC, which was courting Group W for a similar deal but now loses key affiliates.

The Boston station is especially damaging for NBC because it's hometown for "Tonight Show" star Jay Leno and has been a strong market for NBC. NBC may now have difficulty finding a strong station to affiliate with.

CBS and Group W, meanwhile, will combine their stations into a group that reaches about 30% of U.S. TV homes.

CBS will affiliate with Group W's Philadelphia station KYW and will sell or trade its Philadelphia station WCAU to pick up coverage in other key markets.

The CBS/Group W deal also creates a new sales venture that will jointly rep the CBS and Group W stations.

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