Key Affiliates Expected To Stay With UPN

By Caillan
July 23, 2003 - 9:47 AM

UPN's affiliate crisis looks to be over.

The Enterprise network is close to renewing a deal with the Fox Television Station Group to ensure its affiliates continue to air UPN programming beyond the end of the 2003-2004 television season, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The Fox stations, which are controlled by News Corporation, comprises 20% of UPN's national coverage.

"The News Corp. negotiation is going extremely well," CBS chairman Les Moonves, who is also responsible for UPN, told reporters at the Television Critics Association press tour yesterday. "We expect to have a [new] deal."

UPN's long-term survival hinges on the network securing a pact with Fox. The nine stations which form the Fox Television Station Group include affiliates in New York and Los Angeles, two of the biggest markets in the United States. "We don't expect there to be any problems," Moonves said, "notwithstanding the $100 million lawsuit that is going on between the companies."

In March of this year Fox affiliates filed a $108 breach of contract suit against UPN (story). The stations were reportedly disappointed by UPN's declining viewership and the network's reduction in advertising and promotion. But the lawsuit won't affect the current negotiations. "We're talking and [having] all positive discussions," Moonves told reporters.

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 this television season.

The original Hollywood Reporter article is available at Yahoo! News.

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