New uncertainty, opportunities

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What was supposed to be a routine conference-the January gathering of the National Association of Television Program Executives in Las Vegas-turned on its head when on the first day of the event The WB and UPN broadcast networks made the stunning announcement they would merge into The CW.

Suddenly, TV syndicators were salivating at the thought of hundreds of newly independent stations soliciting their programs and perhaps hundreds of millions of ad dollars floating in the market. After all, few expected The CW to absorb all of its predecessors' combined ad dollars.

Of course, it's not that simple. Shortly after The CW was announced, News Corp., which owned several stations set to become orphans based on The CW's affiliate agreement with Tribune Co., announced its own network play-My Network TV. Syndication hasn't faced this kind of upheaval since 1996, when the United Paramount Network was introduced.

With both The CW and My Network TV still signing up affiliates, it remains to be seen whether the fallout will create more opportunity for syndicators.

Amid this environment of uncertainty, Advertising Age made its annual rounds of media buyers to see how they were pricing syndicated TV shows.
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