Cable networks in the past have ended without one. Most didn't have a history. So they just stopped or were merged with another entity.
The WB, though, has some decent history: the 10-year old network gave us "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" "Angel," and, of course, "Dawson's Creek." The WB will end in mid-September when it is merged with UPN to form The CW.
For its part, the WB will act much like a very big network, giving viewers a five-hour send-off Sept. 17, re-airing pilots from its key shows "Buffy," "Felicity" and "Dawson's Creek."
All this is good. Typically in TV land when a TV show is cancelled, it just ends in mid-thought, mid-story arc. Viewers always remain bitter. What happened to that mysterious devil-ish character lucking around Joan in "Joan of Arcardia"? We'll never know.
Viewers may not get any explanation why the WB is going off the air--as well as its 10-year-old competitor, UPN--and why the new network, The CW, will take over. But there'll be an ending. Viewers understand endings.
Of course, the WB owners could act as though it was just another new show losing steam--where a money-losing program just stops and is pulled from the air. If the same rules apply, WB would have stopped some time ago. The difference here is that the CW still needs the promotional time and value that WB provides for its shows--shows that will move over to the new network.
An individual failing TV show doesn't get, nor need, that kind of treatment. That's because viewers have already moved on--which, not so ironically, is what has happened to the WB this past season.
No matter. Give those WB executives credit in trying to put a proper coda to the end of a overall network run that gave us real reasons not to watch the big four networks on some nights.