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GMs Warm to New MNT Model

General managers at the various MyNetworkTV affiliates around the country seem guardedly enthused about the News Corp.-owned network's decision to become a “programming service” next fall.

That development will see MyNetwork TV (MNT) provide its 180 affiliates with 10 hours of programming a week, including Law & Order: Criminal Intent. MNT currently supplies 12 hours a week; affiliates will program Saturday nights themselves come fall.

“We're very happy about it,” says Bill Applegate, VP/General Manager at Raycom's Cleveland duopoly WOIO/WUAB. “Getting Saturday nights back is terrific, the overall inventory spread stays the same, and Law & Order is going to play well here.”

Several MNT general managers say it is too soon to decide whether the network's strategic overhaul is a good thing for the affiliates. But most are pleased to hear that an established program from the Law & Order franchise will air on their stations. Some suggest it's much more advertiser-friendly than gritty unscripted programs like Jail, and will encourage viewers to sample MNT.

“From the novelas [at launch] to the current lineup, the biggest challenge has been how to make shows stand out in a crowded marketplace,” says Kevin Hale, VP/GM of News Corp.-owned KTTV/KCOP Los Angeles. “I think the new plan helps that substantially.”