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Par Stations buys UPN affil WUPL

The fast-growing Paramount Stations Group has struck a deal to buy UPN affiliate WUPL New Orleans.

The deal, subject to regulatory approval, will bring the number of UPN O&Os in the Paramount fold to 13 and extend the group’s national reach to 22.1% of U.S. TV households. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but one veteran TV station broker pegged the value of WUPL at $15 million to $20 million at most.

WUPL only signed on the air in 1995, but TV station values have soared as fledgling netlets UPN and the WB vie for affiliates. Paramount Stations Group parent Viacom owns 50% of UPN, which lost a round in the distribution battle last month when Sinclair Broadcast Group announced plans to switch its five major-market UPN affils to WB affils next year, a move that has since prompted a legal fracas.

But even before the Sinclair-WB deal was unveiled, PSG’s station buys reflected Viacom’s commitment to shoring up UPN’s national distribution. The deal with WUPL owner Middle America Communications comes on the heels of last week’s station-swap agreement with NBC, in which PSG agreed to trade its NBC affil in Hartford, Conn., for two stations serving medium-sized TV markets — WWHO Columbus, Ohio; and WLWC Providence, R.I.

PSG’s other recent acquisitions include KPWB Sacramento and KSTW Seattle.

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