The acrimony between the Sinclair Broadcast Group and UPN shows no sign of abating.
Baltimore-based Sinclair, one of the nation’s fastest-growing TV station groups, has informed the weblet that it will not renew its affiliation with UPN in three small markets where it has recently acquired stations, according to UPN officials. Reps for Sinclair did not return calls seeking comment.
The stations in question — WNYS Syracuse, N.Y.; WDKA Paducah, Ky.; and WMMP Charleston, S.C. — still have at least two years to go on their affiliation deals with UPN.
“This is old news to UPN,” said a network spokesman. “They wanted to extract a high price (from UPN to reup in) those markets and we weren’t prepared to do that. The markets together represent less than 1% of (U.S. TV households). The loss has no impact on our future.”
It’s still unclear if any of the stations will eventually switch to UPN’s weblet rival, the WB Network. Sinclair’s decision last year to switch five of its major-market outlets from UPN to the WB camp touched off a round of lawsuits between Sinclair and UPN, jointly owned by Viacom and Chris Craft/United Television.
In snaring the Sinclair outlets, the WB agreed to pay the station group $84 million over the next decade, a departure from its reverse-compensation arrangements with other WB affils.
The lawsuits between UPN and Sinclair have since been dropped, but relations are still chilly between the two companies. Sinclair is understood to have stopped doing business with Viacom’s Paramount Domestic TV syndie arm.