UPN Returns To Central Texas

By Caillan
June 22, 2001 - 11:39 AM

Texans who missed out on the last season of Star Trek: Voyager will have their weekly Trek diet fulfilled next season, as Time Warner Cable plans to transmit UPN programs in Austin starting August 2.

A new agreement was formed between Time Warner Cable and KBEJ-TV in Fredericksburg, Texas, the UPN affiliate for the area. Through this deal, UPN programming will now be available via cable in Austin. "We've been working to make this possible," Time Warner spokeswoman Lidia Agraz told the Austin Statesman."We know our customers value the programming, and we wanted to be as responsive as possible."

The new arrangement is the result of pressure from the public, presumably also because Voyager fans protested against missing the show during its final season. This convinced Time Warner Cable to sign a new retransmission agreement with KBEJ-TV. As part of the deal, Time Warner will receive a share of KBEJ's advertising revenue.

Austin viewers lost UPN in October of last year when the network decided to drop its former Texas affiliate, KVC Channel 13, and switch to KBEJ. This station is based halfway between San Antonio and Austin, but is only permitted to broadcast to the San Antonio market. For UPN, this deal meant more viewers, as San Antonio is the larger TV market of the two.

For Austin viewers, however, this meant UPN programming was no longer available in their market. As a TV station that was technically part of the San Antonio market, Time Warner Cable in Austin was not required to carry it, and indeed chose not to. "Time Warner told us we had to give up must-carry in Austin if we had must-carry in San Antonio," said Dennis Williamson, vice president of KBEJ's parent company. "It was a channel capacity issue for them."

Nationwide coverage has been a problem for UPN during its short history, but of late the network has been breaking into new markets. However, UPN's recent affiliation with WHSL-TV in St. Louis, Missouri, finally gave it coverage in all the top fifty television markets, signifying an upturn in fortunes.

More information can be found in this TV Insite article. Thanks to Susan Lange for this!

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