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UPN, WB Merging Into The CW

CBS Corp. and Warner Bros. are shutting down their respective UPN and The WB Television Network channels and replacing them with The CW, a new network that will launch this fall.

Tribune Broadcasting, which distributes The WB on its stations, and CBS’ UPN affiliates signed separate 10-year affiliation agreements to broadcast The CW.

Both The WB and UPN launched in January 1995, targeting young viewers. Both networks have struggled to compete with “Big Four” broadcast networks ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox.

CBS and Warner Bros. said The WB and UPN will continue to operate until this fall, when they’ll be replaced with The CW. Each company will own 50% of the network.

The combination of Tribune's 16 major-market stations and the 12 CBS-owned UPN major-market affiliates give The CW instant coverage in 48% of the country. The remainder of the network's distribution system will be a combination of selected current UPN and The WB stations. The full distribution of the new network is expected to exceed 95% of the country.

UPN president Dawn Ostroff will become president of entertainment at The CW, while The WB chief operating officer John Maatta will hold the same title at the new network.