Fox Starts Expunging UPN Brand

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Fox Television Stations, which will lose its UPN affiliation in the fall, is removing any mention of the network from the eight major-market UPN affiliates it owns, News Corp. confirmed Wednesday.

“We’d be crazy not to cut spending money on a network we’re no longer going to be affiliated with,” said News Corp. spokesman Andrew Butcher, adding that Fox normally takes similar measures when shows get cancelled.

Butcher was unaware of specific moves, but insiders say Fox is, among other things, pulling on-air promos for UPN, scratching February sweeps radio buys promoting UPN’s shows, and deleting UPN logos from stations.

UPN provides stations with show promos they can run anytime and also feeds promos that are part of its network prime time feed. A UPN spokeswoman Wednesday declined to comment.

The move, which should take a few months to complete, could leave some of the netlet’s highest-rated and most buzz-worthy shows, such as Everybody Hates Chris, America’s Next Top Model and wrestling’s Friday Night Smackdown—all candidates for the new CW schedule—high and dry during their final two meaningful sweeps on UPN--February and May.

Fox will lose its affiliation when the CW debuts on rival Tribune Broadcasting, the former home of The WB.

Butcher described the move as a “routine business decision” that had nothing at all to do with anger or revenge at Leslie Moonves, the chairman of UPN-owner CBS Corp.

Moonves left Fox scrambling Tuesday to fill the programming void after he engineered the newly combined CW network with WB-parents Warner Bros. and Tribune. Fox will be looking at potential moves, including more news, sports, and repurposed programming, over the next few weeks.

On Tuesday, WWOR New York, KCOP Los Angeles and the other Fox UPN stations had removed the UPN logo from the bug in the lower-right portion of the screen.

Now, it simply reads “13” in Los Angeles. There was no bug visible Wednesday morning in New York, but word had not apparently reached a switchboard operator there, who continued to answer calls “UPN 9.”

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