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Re: Viacom Buys The 50% Of UPN They Didn't Already Own For $ 5 Million.

Joseph Gallant <notquite@hotmail.com> wrote:

> This should clear the way for Viacom, since it is merging with CBS, to
> close UPN down later this Summer (since the FCC will probably not allow
> the combined Viacom/CBS to own more than one broadcast network), with a
> handful of UPN's more popular programs ("Star Trek Voyager", "WWF
> Smackdown" and a couple of UPN's "urban" sitcoms) migrating to CBS for
> the fall season.

Gallant strikes again! :)  But seriously, it brings a few things to mind...

I wonder what provision, if any, exists for such an abrupt termination of the
relationship between UPN and its non-O&O affiliates.

UPN wouldn't be shut down, I think, just sold (for a great deal more than $5
million) to another interested party.  The question becomes, who would be
interested?  Barry Diller's USA Networks comes to mind as a potential suitor.
Diller needs critical mass in order to make his UHF home shopping O&Os viable
as original programming outlets, and getting into the broadcast network
business solves that problem virtually overnight.

But there are problems with that scenario.  One is money.  If Diller is
interested in buying Seagram's majority interest in Universal Studios, as
rumoured, will he have the wherewithal to add UPN to his portfolio?  And of
course Diller and CBS are vying for the rights to carry the WWF.  Any UPN
purchase by Diller would have to have a WWF component, I would think, or it
could exchanged for Viacom takeover of the WWF rights (with some form of added
compensation one way or the other.)  How *do* you place value on a money-losing
broadcast network, anyway?

I think the WWF would end up on TNN, not CBS, if UPN were to shut down.  I
think UPN's sitcoms would go to the WB or Fox (if they were viable enough) and
ST:V would either cease production or go to first-run syndication.

Take care,