UPN, WB to Merge Into CW Network

NEW YORK UPN and The WB will cease operations in September, giving way to a new broadcast network that will build on the assets of CBS Corp. and Time Warner.

The new venture, to be named The CW Network, launches this fall with 30 hours of weekly programming aimed at the 18-34 demographic.

Leslie Moonves, president and CEO of CBS, said that the CW Net would be “able to do in its first season something truly remarkable, which is to program already hit shows every day of the week . . . reaching that most coveted young adult demo.”

Tribune Broadcasting and the CBS Corp.’s UPN affiliates have agreed separately to sign 10-year affiliation deals with the new network. Tribune boasts 16 major market stations and the CBS-owned UPN has 12 major market affiliates, giving the CW coverage in 48 percent of the country.

Dawn Ostroff, currently president of UPN, will become president of entertainment at The CW, and John Maatta, currently COO of The WB, will be COO, overseeing advertising sales, finance, business affairs, distribution and legal. Bill Morningstar, The WB’s executive vice president of ad sales, will report to Maatta as The CW’s head of sales.

Also, WB Network chairman Garth Ancier and WB entertainment president David Janollari are expected to depart their posts following the completion of the deal.

The remainder of The CW’s senior staff will be composed of executives from both The WB and UPN.

The CW will incorporate The WB’s current scheduling model, programming six nights and 13 hours of prime-time fare per week, including unscripted series such as America’s Next Top Model and dramas like Smallville, Gilmore Girls and Veronica Mars. In addition, the net will also broadcast the schedule of children’s programming now known as Kids’ WB.

Moonves said Tuesday that the network would embrace online and wireless platforms but added that no plans have been finalized as yet.

While both entities have a wealth of jointly owned programming, Moonves said the channel would be “open to everybody” inasmuch as outside deals are concerned.