Key Affiliates Stay In UPN FoldBy Caillan
September 25, 2003 - 2:44 AM
UPN yesterday secured its long-term future in several crucial U.S. markets.
The network, home of Star Trek Enterprise, signed a new affiliate agreement with the Fox Television Station group, Mediaweek reported. The nine affiliate stations were reportedly considering leaving UPN due to the network's falling ratings and even filed a breach of contract suit against the network (story).
The new pact ensures that the nine affiliates will continue to carry UPN programming, including Star Trek Enterprise, Jake 2.0 and WWE Smackdown, for several years to come, though the exact duration of the contract is currently under wraps. If the Fox stations had decided not to re-sign with UPN, it would have reduced the struggling network's national coverage by 24%.
Affiliate stations included in the deal include some of the United States' most important markets, including New York, Chicago, Washington D.C., Los Angeles and Houston. CBS chairman Les Moonves, who also oversees UPN, said the Fox stations are "an outstanding group and a very important part of the UPN affiliate family".
Five of the Fox affiliates were originally part of Chris-Craft Industries, which launched UPN together with Viacom. When Viacom bought Chris-Craft's 50% stake in the network it also tried to acquire its affiliates, but negotiations broke down. News Corporation, Fox's parent company, stepped in and bought the former Chris-Craft stations, renewing the affiliate agreement with UPN until the end of the 2003-2004 television season.
But with the new extended contract, UPN now has a stable, long-term future beyond the end of this season. One UPN insider told Mediaweek that the network is "expecting to be around for a long time".
The complete article can be found here at Mediaweek.com.