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UPN extends affil reach

The United Paramount Network has shored up its affiliate lineup, adding three new primary affiliates and six secondary affiliates in mostly smaller markets.

Intriguingly, while in the past most of UPN’s secondary affils have been primary affiliates of Fox, the six new secondary affiliates are ABC and CBS stations.

Wilkes-Barre connection

The biggest addition to the UPN secondary-affiliate fold is CBS affil WYOU Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Pa., the 47th-largest market. The station had been running “Star Trek: Voyager” on Saturdays from 11 p.m. to midnight. It likely will carry UPN fare during weekend timeslots.

New primary affiliates for UPN are KWLP Shreveport, La. (market 76); KAKW Waco, Texas (market 98); and WRJM Montgomery, Ala. (market 111). KAKW is a new station that is going on the air in the next two months, and KWLB is a former religious station that has found commercial broadcasting.

On the secondary front, CBS affiliates WDBJ Roanoke, Va., and WLTX Columbia, S.C., have signed with UPN, as have ABC affiliates KRGV Harlingen, Texas, and Montana’s KSVI Billings and KFBB Great Falls.

With the exception of KFBB, all of the secondary affiliates previously carried only “Voyager.” “The strength of ‘Voyager’s’ initial performance, combined with UPN’s strong fall lineup, were the only sales tools we needed to upgrade these markets,” said Kevin Tannehill, UPN’s senior vice president of network distribution.

Ever expansion-minded, the weblet will launch UPN Kids this fall, with two shows from Saban Entertainment, which is a

co-partner in the netlet’s children’s programming efforts. The shows, “Space Strikers” and “Teknoman,” will premiere on Sunday Sept. 10 in the 10-11 a.m. time period. The move marks UPN’s first entry into Sunday and children’s programming.

Programming quandary

With UPN also expanding to three weeknights this fall, it remains to be seen how much programming secondary affiliates will be able to carry. Tannehill said it will vary from market to market as to how much of the UPN schedule gets on the air. UPN says its current lineup of primary affils reaches 73% of the country, with secondary affiliates reaching another 13.5%.

Salhany said her goal is to get UPN’s broadcast reach up to 90% and then look at cable to reach the remainder of the country. “We’re still primarily broadcast-driven,” she said, adding that at some point strategic alliances will be created with cablers to reach so-called white areas where UPN has no broadcast coverage.

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