Look for word from UPN later this week on a new affiliate deal for St. Louis with WHSL(TV) a Home Shopping Network affiliate controlled by Roberts Broadcasting with a 45% minority stake held by Univision, through its acquisition of USA Broadcasting.
The HSN affiliation still has another 18 months to run. In the mean time, UPN will continue its secondary affiliate status on WB affiliate KPLR-TV in the market. St. Louis has been one of the biggest holes in UPN's lineup. But the network has battled back on the distribution front since Sinclair Broadcast Group pulled a handful of key affiliates and placed them with the WB in 1998.
In February 1998 when the Sinclair switch took effect, UPN's U.S. household coverage sank to 71.5%. As of this May, UPN's national coverage is up to 86% and St. Louis will add another 1.1% when it takes effect.
- Steve McClellan