Bumped CBS shows to be aired on WJZ two months late

October 28, 1994|By David Zurawik | David Zurawik,Sun Television Critic

It may get a little confusing for television viewers, but relief is on the way for Baltimore area fans of Dick Van Dyke's "Diagnosis Murder," Judith Ivey's "The Five Mrs. Buchanans," Annie Potts' "Love and War" and Markie Post's "Hearts Afire."

These four CBS shows, which have been pre-empted by WBAL (Channel 11), Baltimore's CBS affiliate, will air on WJZ (Channel 13), the local ABC affiliate, starting Nov. 5.

"I'm pleased that we were able to work this arrangement out with ABC and CBS for the benefit of our viewers," said WJZ General Manager Marcellus Alexander. "The plan gives area viewers the chance to finally see programming pre-empted by WBAL."

WJZ will air "Love and War" at 8 p.m. Saturdays, "The Five Mrs. Buchanans" at 9 p.m. Saturdays, with "Hearts Afire" following at 9:30. Starting Nov. 6, "Diagnosis Murder" will air at 1 p.m. Sundays on WJZ.

WBAL has been pre-empting the CBS shows since the start of the fall season. The reason for the move -- one of the largest network pre-emptions ever by an affiliate -- is that WBAL and CBS will be parting ways on Jan. 2.

On that day, WJZ will become the new CBS affiliate, WBAL will align with NBC, and WMAR (Channel 2) joins the ABC network.

WBAL General Manager Phil Stolz said his station could make more money by pre-empting a show such as "Diagnosis Murder," which has an older audience, and replacing it with "Baywatch," a syndicated show with young viewers who are far more attractive to advertisers.

While it was essentially a business move, Stolz also said he was not happy about CBS's going along with WJZ in its successful effort to delay the network switching until January.

WBAL and WMAR had wanted the three-way trade to take place on Aug. 29, before the start of the new season. WJZ wanted to stick with ABC as long as it could under its contract with the top-rated network.

From the moment WBAL announced its pre-emptive strike, it's been expected WJZ would air the affected CBS shows.

No one expected it to take this long, though.

"Part of what took a while is that we wanted to come up with the least disruptive schedule.

"We didn't want to be pre-empting all over the place," Alexander said yesterday.

The only prime-time ABC offering that WJZ will have to pre-empt to accommodate the CBS shows is "The ABC Family Movie," which airs Saturday nights from 8 to 10.

Alexander said the station will try to reschedule the movies on a film by film basis.

If you aren't confused already, the final piece of this deal will surely do it.

WBAL has also been pre-empting Dudley Moore's "Daddy's Girls." But CBS has already canceled the new series. In its place, CBS is giving a second run each week to "Dave's World."

So, at 8:30 p.m. on Monday, local viewers will see "Dave's World" on WBAL. Then, at 8:30 p.m. on Nov. 5, they'll see the same episode of "Dave's World" on WJZ.

The pattern will hold each week until CBS replaces "Daddy's Girls" with a new show instead of a weekly rerun of "Dave's World."

"We're doing this for viewers," Alexander said. "But, yes, that part of it could be a bit confusing."

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