January 24, 2006
Smackdown appears safe in face of WB-UPN merger
Struggling networks to join in the fall
By SLAM! Wrestling

The merger of the WB and UPN will result in fewer broadcast spaces on, but should not effect WWE Smackdown.

The merger, announced today through a press release from both CBS Corp. (which owns UPN) and Warner Bros. Entertainment (WB's parent company), cited the popular Friday night wrestling show as programming that will be part of the new CW network, which will launch in the fall.

"In addition the WWE's Smackdown, which has been a mainstay at UPN, is expected to play a role in the schedule," the release noted.

Smackdown has been part of UPN since its debut in 1999. At the time, Smackdown was a second two-hour broadcast by the then-WWF, but has since become its own brand with its own wrestlers under World Wrestling Entertainment.

Initially broadcast on Thursday nights, Smackdown moved to its current Friday timeslot last year. Over the last few weeks, Smackdown has drawn record numbers for Friday night broadcasts on UPN. Smackdown can also be seen in Canada on Thursday nights on The Score.

UPN and the WB will both cease operations in the fall when CW launches. CW's schedule will include 30 hours of programming per week to affiliate stations, including 13 hours of primetime broadcasts over six days.

Both UPN and WB had struggled to compete against larger rivals in the broadcast TV business, including Walt Disney Co.'s ABC, News Corp.'s Fox, General Electric Co.'s NBC and CBS Corp.'s CBS. It will be a 50-50 partnership between Warner Bros. and CBS, and the network will be carried on stations owned by the Tribune Co., which is a minority owner of the WB network. Among the Tribune's TV stations that will join the new network are its flagship WGN in Chicago as well as WPIX in New York, and KTLA in Los Angeles.

- With files from Jon Waldman, Canoe wire services


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