Chernin Upbeat On CW Despite Affils Lost

News Corp. President Peter Chernin says he sees nothing but upside in the combination of the network with The WB.

Chernin notes that by essentially merging two young-skewing networks together, “We think that there will be ratings freed up among younger demos,” which may send many of those viewers to Fox Network.

The same goes for ad dollars that WB and UPN had tied up.

Nine of Fox’s television stations will lose their UPN affiliation this fall when both UPN and WB go dark and their parent companies create The CW Network.

In major markets including New York and Los Angeles stations owned by WB’s 22.5% owner Tribune Co. will become CW affiliates.

As soon as the news broke three weeks ago, Chernin ordered his UPN stations to de-brand by dropping any mention of that network.

On a conference call to discuss News Corp.’s earnings, Chernin said Wednesday that the company’s not sure how it will replace the loss of UPN’s programing.

“We're looking at unwired network things. We're talking to all of the other stations out there and seeing plans that we can come up with to supply those with programming," he said. "We'll hopefully be able to announce something in the next several weeks.”

The company is expected to launch daily syndicated English-language telenovela Desire, from co-owned Twentieth Television, on its owned stations and then offer the show to stations in other makets losing their affiliations with WB or UPN.

In other news, Chairman Rupert Murdoch says that the long-simmering plans for a business news channel may turn into a launch in 2006. He says that after talks with cable operators, "we're growing confident that we'll have enough subscribers to start it this year."