Sinclair's WNUV to air new CW network in fall

May 03, 2006|By DAVID ZURAWIK | DAVID ZURAWIK,SUN TELEVISION CRITIC

The CW network, which is being launched this fall, will be broadcast in Baltimore on WNUV (Channel 54).

The fledgling network is being formed by the merger of two underachieving broadcast operations, UPN and WB, and will target viewers 18 to 34 years old. Its fall lineup, which will be announced this month, is expected to include the WB's Gilmore Girls and UPN's America's Next Top Model.

Managed by the Hunt Valley-based Sinclair Broadcast Group, WNUV is the Baltimore affiliate for the WB network, and although the CW startup was announced in January, no Baltimore outlet had been secured until yesterday.

(UPN programs are carried in Baltimore on WUTB, Channel 24. Beginning Sept. 5, WUTB will be affiliated with My Network TV, a new programming service owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. that will offer quiz shows, reality TV and dramas based on telenovelas.)

The Sinclair deal represents an important step for CW, television's fifth network, which will begin presenting its fall schedule to potential advertisers this month. Major sales would be hard to come by without an affiliate lineup in place guaranteeing distribution of programming to the vast majority of American homes.

CW -- a partnership of CBS Corp. and Warner Bros. Entertainment -- now has affiliates in all 40 of the nation's largest TV markets with the addition of WNUV and other stations owned or managed by Sinclair in Minneapolis; Raleigh-Durham, N.C.; Nashville, Tenn.; Milwaukee; and Birmingham-Tuscaloosa, Ala. (Baltimore is the nation's 24th-largest market.)

"The addition of these key markets puts the CW at more than 90 percent total U.S. coverage," John Matta, the network's chief operating officer, said in a statement. "That gives us an outstanding launching pad for the CW."

David Smith, president and CEO of Sinclair Broadcast Group, said in a statement, "A primetime schedule that includes the most popular programming currently on the WB and UPN networks gives us an important sales and marketing advantage.

"Going forward, this will help us maximize the value of our CW affiliations."

In addition to Sinclair, the network has an affiliate agreement with Tribune Broadcasting that guarantees affiliates in 16 of the nation's largest cities, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Dallas and Washington, D.C. (The Tribune Co. owns The Sun.)

The CW will use the same part-time programming model as the WB -- offering six nights of primetime series for a total of 13 hours a week. The shows will air from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday and 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays.

david.zurawik@baltsun.com

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