Chris-Craft To Make UPN Decision

By Christian
March 17, 2000 - 1:07 PM

Variety is reporting that a New York State Supreme Court has ruled Chris-Craft Industries will have to either sell its 50% stake in UPN to Viacom, or buy the half it doesn't own from Viacom, both for the price of $5 million. They will have to do this because of a 'buy-sell' provision in the UPN contract, which Viacom triggered last month and which will expire on Monday.

In response to Viacom's triggering of the provision, Chris-Craft launched a lawsuit against Viacom, claiming Viacom had breached the contract by merging with CBS, as the original UPN contract doesn't allow any of the owners to run a competing network. However, the judge ruled this argument did not apply, as the Viacom/CBS merger hasn't officially been completed yet.

In the article, it is mentioned that many Wall Street experts expect Chris-Craft to sell its stake in UPN to Viacom, along with its group of TV stations, most of them UPN affiliates. Alternatively, if Chris-Craft would decide to take over all of UPN, they could possibly close a deal with USA Networks, in order to replace the Viacom-owned UPN affiliates.

Even if Viacom is able to take over all of UPN, it is still not certain whether the company will be allowed to keep the network, as FCC regulations currently forbid a company from owning more than one national network. Even though many experts expect the FCC to change this rule, Viacom has also said it would be willing to sell UPN if that would be necessary to make the CBS merger go through.

A bit more on this can be found in the original Variety article.

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