You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Weblet soap ends: Viacom’s got UPN

5-year troubled partnership with BHC over

NEW YORK — Viacom said Monday it has completed the purchase of UPN, buying the 50% of the network it didn’t own from Chris-Craft’s BHC Communications for $5 million.

Announcement marks the end of an uncomfortable five-year partnership as Viacom assumes complete operating control of the net. The entertainment conglom managed to shed Chris-Craft by triggering a “buy-sell” provision in the UPN contract that allowed either partner to offer the other a deal: Either buy out the remaining stake in UPN or sell it at a give price, in this case, a lowball $5 million.

Affil deal still possible

Chris-Craft’s lawsuit to block the ‘buy-sell” failed, as did its attempt to find a white knight to help it take on UPN. The company, essentially a TV station group, doesn’t have the deep pockets or studio resources to make a go of the money-losing — although newly hot — network on its own.

However, it’s still possible, some say, that Chris-Craft, which now owns the biggest group of UPN affiliates, could strike a deal with Viacom for its stations, which are attractively placed in major markets.

It seems likely that Viacom will be able to keep UPN even though its planned purchase of CBS Corp. would leave it owning two TV networks. That’s currently against FCC policy, but Viacom has asked the commission to relax the rule or grant it a waiver since it might be forced to shutter the weblet if it had to sell but couldn’t find a buyer.

If anyone was interested, the logic goes, that person or group would have stepped up with Chris-Craft to take advantage of the bargain basement price.

UPN execs are looking forward to a more smoothly running UPN now, without feuding parents. The co-owners had squabbled on issues from budgets (Viacom wanted to spend more, Chris-Craft didn’t) to programming.

For instance, the long-running, Paramount-produced hit “Sister, Sister,” one insider noted, found a home at rival WB after Chris-Craft turned the series away from UPN.

More TV

  • TV Shows to Watch the Week

    TV Shows to Watch the Week of Dec. 17, 2018: 'Schitt's Creek,' 'Runaways'

    Welcome back to Tune In: our weekly newsletter offering a guide to the best of the week’s TV. Each week, Variety’s TV team combs through the week’s schedule, selecting our picks of what to watch and when/how to watch them. This week, “Schitt’s Creek” airs a holiday special and “The Runaways” returns for Season 2 [...]

  • Channing DungeyWomen In Film Crystal and

    Channing Dungey Joins Netflix as VP of Original Content

    Former ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey is joining Netflix as the vice president of original content, Variety has learned. In her new role, she will report to Cindy Holland, who is also vice president of original content. Dungey is expected to start working at the streamer in February. “We’re delighted to be adding Channing’s expertise, leadership [...]

  • Homecoming

    Golden Globes: Star Power and Limited Space Shut Out Worthy Contenders (Column)

    For as scattered as the Golden Globes can be, there are at least a couple of constants when it comes to the nominations. The Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. has proved time and again that its favorite kind of actors to reward tend to come from two extreme sides of the spectrum: talented first-timers and huge [...]

  • Marta Fernandez Starz

    Starz Promotes Marta Fernandez to Executive VP of Originals Programming

    Starz has promoted Marta Fernandez to executive VP of originals programming. Fernandez has been with Starz since 2007. Most recently, she has helped steer the original programming team and leads the company’s inclusion initiatives. Among the shows that she directly oversees are the drama series “Vida” and “American Gods” and the upcoming “P-Valley,” set in [...]

  • Telemundo to Launch English-Language Newscast With

    Telemundo to Launch First English-Language Newscast on YouTube (EXCLUSIVE)

    NBCUniversal’s Hispanic broadcaster Telemundo is developing its first English-language newscast in collaboration with YouTube in a bid to tap the burgeoning U.S. Hispanic youth demographic. Borne out of a YouTube grant aimed at awarding journalism projects that “elevate quality journalism, evolve business models to drive sustainable growth, and empower news organizations through technological innovation,” Telemundo News’ [...]


    How the HFPA Celebrated History With 2019 Golden Globe Nominees

    The Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. often prides itself on being trendsetting when it comes to recognizing new talent and programming, and the 2019 crop of nominees certainly follows that pattern. But sometimes celebrating something new actually means celebrating something old, in the form of storytelling that explores key eras in history. FX Soviet spy drama [...]

  • Ryan Murphy - Outstanding Directing for

    Ryan Murphy to Be Honored by Costume Designers Guild

    The Costume Designers Guild has selected Ryan Murphy as the recipient of its distinguished collaborator award. The producer will be honored at the 21st Costume Designers Guild Awards on Feb. 19 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles. The distinguished collaborator award honors individuals who demonstrate “unwavering support” of costume design and creative partnerships with [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content