UPN & Chris-Craft Nearing Affiliation AgreementBy Christian
December 12, 2000 - 11:29 PM
According to yesterday's edition of the Hollywood Reporter, negotiations are still going on between the Chris-Craft station group and UPN to renew Chris-Craft's affiliate agreement, expiring on the 15th of January. Chris-Craft, which owns 8 UPN affiliates, including stations in major markets such as Los Angeles and New York, was acquired several months ago by News Corp., raising doubts over whether the netlet would still exist after January.
However, according to the Hollywood Reporter's sources, both sides now seem closer to reaching an agreement. Originally, Chris-Craft was reported to insist on only a short-term extension of the contract until September, when the merger with News Corp. will be completed, while UPN was insisting on a multiyear deal. This situation seems to have changed after News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch recently stated that the company would be interested in running UPN together with its current owner, Viacom. Although News Corp. is not officially involved in the negotiations, it is in close consultation with Chris-Craft on the process, and reportedly Chris-Craft has now agreed to a long-term agreement. All of the companies involved declined to comment on the reports.
Meanwhile, UPN itself is still preparing for the future, having made several important programming announcements over the past few weeks. In the first place, Variety recently reported that UPN cancelled the high-profile Joel Silver series, 'Freedom'. 'Level 9', UPN's other Friday show, is still on the network's schedule, even though its ratings were lower than 'Freedom', and the show in fact is the lowest-rated new show on television. Rumoured replacements include the half-hour series 'Gary and Mike', described as a 'foamation comedy', and 'Off Limits', a sketch series. In addition, the show also ordered six episodes of 'Manhunt', a new reality series co-developed with the WWF, in which a team of bounty hunters has to hunt 'prey' on an outdoor terrain in Hawaii. Variey describes the show as a cross between 'WWF Smackdown!', 'Survivor' and 'The Fugitive'.
Despite the failure of its Friday series and the disappointing ratings 'Voyager' scored over the past month, overall UPN is again doing fairly well this year. According to another Variety report, the network's November sweeps were the best since November 1997, with 13% higher ratings in the adults 18-34 category and viewership gains on four of its five nights.