The Battle Over “The CW” In Cleveland

It’s the Day After…and the fallout from the announcement of the new “CW Network” is beginning to be seen in Cleveland.

The new network, which will combine programming and resources of the folding UPN and WB networks at its September launch, caught everyone in the normally-leaky TV business by surprise. And we mean EVERYONE.

Both WUAB/43 (“UPN 43”) general manager Bill Applegate and WBNX/55 (“Cleveland’s WB”) general manager Lou Spangler found out the same way everyone else did…from media reports of yesterday’s surprise news conference.

Applegate tells the Plain Dealer’s Julie Washington that if CW executives make a choice between his outlet and WBNX, he expects Channel 43 to be the winner…calling WUAB the “stronger candidate” due to its opportunity to cross promote via sister CBS affiliate WOIO/19. Over on State Road in Cuyahoga Falls, WBNX’s Spangler says CW is “an excellent plan” and says his station hopes to win the race to become the Cleveland market outlet for “The CW”.

In the Akron Beacon Journal, TV writer R.D. Heldenfels notes WUAB owner Raycom Media, and its continuing relationship with CBS via WOIO and other CBS and UPN affiliates…something we’ve talked about in This Space. But he also points out that WUAB would have to clear CW Network Saturday programming instead of lucrative weekend infomercials, and that a Channel 43 strength – Cleveland Cavaliers games – could get in the way of the new network’s programming during Cavs season.

Either way, we could find out soon. Talks could begin as soon as this week or early next week. The winner will definitely be one of the two existing affiliates, as even if “The CW” was considering other stations, there are no other non-affiliated market-wide players in Cleveland. And both WUAB and WBNX seem eager to jump aboard…

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