CBS And Warner Bros. Folding UPN And WB Into New Network, The CW

In a massive change to the broadcasting network environment, CBS Corp. and Warners Bros. will merge the assets of their respective financially struggling networks UPN and The WB, forming a new network, The CW.

CBS and Warner Bros. will each have a 50 percent interest in the network, which will be launched this fall. Programming will be a merged effort, taking the best of WB and UPN, including "Smallville," "Gilmore Girls," "Everybody Hates Chris," "Girlfriends, "Veronica Mars" and "Smackdown."

Tribune Broadcasting and CBS stations have signed a ten-year affiliation agreement, which will cover 48 percent of U.S TV households. Both WB and UPN will cease operations in September when The CW launches.

Dawn Ostroff, president of UPN, will be president of entertainment of The CW. All programming, marketing, scheduling, publicity and research functions will report to Ostroff. John Maatta, currently COO of The WB, will become COO of The CW, taking over business affairs, network distribution, legal, finance and human resources functions. The company press release did not mention Garth Ancier, chief executive of The WB.

For advertisers and viewers, the network will offer a diverse programming lineup --one that will be targeted to a younger audience, similar to the WB and UPN's current viewership. Bill Morningstar, executive vice president of advertising sales at The WB, will take over as head of advertising sales for the new network.

The move seems to be inspired and pushed by CBS Corp., which as a newly separate, publicly traded company at the start of this year has made several significant deals.

The new network will take on The WB's current scheduling model--a six-night prime-time lineup. It'll run Monday through Friday nights from 8-10 (EST/PST); Sundays from 7-10 (EST/PST); and Sunday from 5-7 (EST/PST). Additionally there'll be two non-prime-time blocks ---a Monday thru Friday afternoon block from 3-5 (EST/PST) and a 5-hour Saturday morning animation block.

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