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UPN Calls Off Review

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Viacom's UPN has aborted its $20 million media buying and planning review and tapped Aegis Group's Carat in New York to take on the assignment.

Carat handles media for UPN's sister network CBS. Viacom thinks it can realize greater savings by having one media buyer service both networks, sources said. Les Moonves, CBS's president, became president of UPN as well in mid-January when Dean Valentine was let go from the network.

Representatives for both CBS and UPN declined comment. One source said "the process of signing Carat on to work with UPN is continuing. But no contracts have been signed yet."

Carat representatives also de clined comment.

Interpublic Group's Initiative Media North America in Los Angeles has handled UPN's media since the network's launch in 1995. Initiative representatives were unavailable for comment.

UPN launched a media review in October and spoke with about "four other media shops," a source said.

"There's been a lot of speculation that Carat was able to win Pfizer's $700 million media consolidation in Feb ruary 2001 because they were prom ising favorable rates from CBS," one veteran buyer said. "It looks like they're going to be able to promise clients a lot more, thanks to their budding relationship with UPN."

UPN is the third new-business win for Carat in 2002. Since the year began, the shop has won the $400 million Hyundai/Kia consolidated media buying and planning account and the $30 million Pernod Ricard business.