Ancier: WB and Turner Will Remain Separate

If a sitcom series depicted the relationship between the network entities within Turner Broadcasting System Inc., it could easily be titled All In The Family.

But Diff'rent Strokes
might be a more apt description of the original-programming development philosophies of broadcast network The WB and its cable siblings, Turner Network Television and TBS Superstation. Though the networks may collaborate on acquisition and scheduling, they'll remain autonomous — contrary to published reports — when it comes to the creation of original series and specials.

Under the watch of TBS Inc. president Jamie Kellner and Turner Networks executive vice president of programming Garth Ancier, The WB and the Turner cable networks are focused on developing projects that target their respective audiences.

Despite the recent dismantling of the TNT Originals division — which created such ratings-rich original movies as Crossfire Trail
and Call Me Claus, as well as the network's sole hit drama series, Witchblade —
Ancier said that TBSI has no plans to place the two original-programming divisions under one roof in the forseeable future.

"There's no alignment of the two divisions planned," he said. "At times, TBS may have The WB look over their shoulder and provide some of their expertise as they develop projects, but the divisions will remain separate."

He noted that two new Turner original series — TBS Superstation's Worst Case Scenario
and TNT's proposed Residents — are examples of shows that do not have The WB's fingerprints on them. Neither is emblematic of the type of programming that airs on the broadcast network, he said.

"TBS and TNT also make a lot of original movies, and that's not something The WB has expertise in," Ancier said.

The broadcast and cable networks, however, will work together in several other capacities related to scheduling and acquisitions. TNT, for example, is currently yielding decent ratings from its second play of The WB's series Charmed. TNT, which airs the drama a week after its initial run on The WB, has averaged a 1.2 household rating since Charmed's October debut.

The broadcast and cable showings have yielded virtually no duplication of audience, Ancier said, though he conceded that repurposing's viewership benefits have yet to translate with advertisers.

"Where it hasn't been successful is on the financial side, because the advertisers aren't willing to pay a premium CPM, even though they're reaching a much greater audience than just with The WB run," he said.

will remain on TNT for the foreseeable future and will not be part of The WB's plan to repeat its programming on Sunday afternoons, Ancier added. This fall, the broadcast network will add a two-hour block to its Sunday lineup (5 p.m. to 7 p.m.), programmed mostly with repeat episodes of original WB series that aired earlier in the week. The WB has yet say which shows would be repeated.

Ancier said the new block wouldn't discourage the broadcast network from offering repurposed programming on TNT, even for shows with a second run on The WB. He noted the relative success of FX's multiple airings of the Fox series 24, after those installments had already run twice on the broadcast network.

The WB, TNT and TBS may also team more often to acquire marquee movie and series content. The three networks combined to acquire first-run television rights to the popular Lord of the Rings
trilogy for a reported $160 million from AOL Time Warner Inc.-owned New Line Cinema

Ancier wouldn't say whether The WB or the Turner networks would get first crack at the movies. The first installment, The Fellowship of the Ring, has thus far generated an estimated $258 million at the box office.

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.