Following in the footsteps of Fox Net, United Paramount
Network is looking to cable operators to distribute its programming to "white"
coverage areas it can't reach through local broadcast stations.
The 24-hour UPN Plus, which is expected to launch in the
first quarter of 1999, will provide UPN broadcast programming via cable systems to about
15 percent of the county where the network has been unable to reach affiliation deals with
local stations, said Kevin Tannehill, executive vice president of network distribution for
Tannehill said he has already held preliminary discussions
with several operators, although he would not reveal further details, nor would he discuss
what areas of the country the network does not reach.
UPN, which passes about 85 percent of the television homes
in the U.S., is modeling its cable service after Fox Net, which Fox Broadcasting Co.
launched in 1991 to fill in gaps that it could clear through local stations. Tannehill
said, however, that UPN has more white areas to fill than Fox.
"We'll follow the course set by Fox,"
Tannehill said. "We're trying to structure a deal that makes sense for both
While he would not reveal UPN's rate card structure,
Tannehill said it would not be similar to what Time Warner Cable is pitching for its WeB
cable service. Under a carriage deal spearheaded by Time Warner and Tele-Communications
Inc., cable systems that launch the WeB by Sept. 21 will get 7.5 to 10 percent of their
gross local-ad sales -- less commissions -- when they carry the network on a
broadcast-adjacent channel position, said sources familiar with the plan..
UPN most likely won't offer operators launch fees like
Pax Net is providing to its affiliates. Paxson Communications Corp. is offering operators
up to $6 per subscriber for analog carriage, sources said. MSOs are also being paid
incentives to give Pax Net favorable channel placement.
TCI and Comcast Corp. have already signed up to carry Pax
Instead, UPN Net will mirror Fox's approach, in which
the network charged about 15 cents per subscriber, according to sources close to the
Along with UPN's prime-time programming, Tannehill
said the service would offer syndicated programming, movies and "some
infomercials." The network may also look to its affiliates to offer some strong local