3 Orphans To Go Independent

Three CBS-owned stations being orphaned by UPN’s September shutdown will replace their UPN prime with local news and reruns of top syndicated shows.

On Sept. 18, KTXA Dallas-Ft. Worth plans to debut a two-hour prime time news block. The station, which will call itself KTXA 21 “As Independent as Texas,” is hiring new talent and building its own set and will rely on some reporters and resources from sister CBS outlet KTVT. After news, repeats of Dr. Phil will run at 10 p.m.

KTXA was partly inspired by CBS’ existing independent KCAL Los Angeles, which runs three hours of news in prime. For its Dallas-Ft. Worth viewers, KTXA is building a fast-paced, hyper-local newscast emphasizing community and sports. “There is a heavy news appetite in this market,” says General Manager Steve Mauldin. A key advantage to news, he notes, is that his station will retain all of the advertising inventory.

When The WB and UPN announced in January that they will shut down and merge, CBS and Tribune, a part owner of The WB, carved up the markets for The CW. Where they overlapped, CBS was left with three UPN outlets that will now be independents. Station managers were sent scrambling to craft new schedules.

In Boston, WSBK is opting for news and talk in prime. The station is building a 9:30 newscast, to be produced by CBS-owned WBZ. The lead-ins will be Dr. Phil at 8 p.m. and Jeopardy! at 9 p.m.. General Manager Julio Marenghi says the lineup meshes well with WSBK’s strong daytime court block and Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! in access. “We’ll have a better shot at holding an audience in prime,” he says.

The station may also make a play to nab the Boston Red Sox and Boston Celtics in over-the-air TV deals. To focus resources on the prime news, WSBK plans to cancel its existing morning news next month.

The third CBS-owned UPN making changes for fall, WBFS Miami-Ft. Lauderdale will pair its existing 10 p.m. news with a double run of The King of Queens at 8 p.m. and The Oprah Winfrey Show at 9 p.m.

In West Palm Beach, Fla., CBS owns both the UPN and WB stations. Its UPN outlet, WTVX, is converting to The CW, but CBS is still formulating plans for WB affiliate WTCN.