Primetime mini-net features two stripped hour-long telenovelas. Starting with 24% coverage from 10 Fox stations, it seeks affiliates among stations being abandoned by UPN and The WB.

The Fox station group today unveiled a mini-broadcast network aimed at replacing the primetime programming it and other TV groups will be losing this fall in the wake of the WB-UPN merger. The network is set to debut on Sept. 5.

Dubbed My Network TV, the 12-hour-a-week service will featured two hour-long telenovelas from Fox’s News Corp. sibling Twentieth Television each weeknight and a yet-unidentified two-hour block on Saturday. Each telenovela tells a story of romance and adventure in 65 episodes spread over 13 weeks.

Ten Fox stations will anchor the network: WWOR New York, KCOP Los Angeles, WPWR Chicago, KDFI Dallas, WDCA Washington, KTXH Houston, WFTC Minneapolis, KUTP Phoenix, WRBW Orlando and WUTB Baltimore. Together, they reach about 24% of the country’s 110 million TV homes.

Fox will seek affiliates in other markets, asking no payments and offering “attractive” splits of the advertising inventory. “We consider this to be a station-friendly alternative that will deliver more local inventory to its affiliates, uphold each station’s localism and feature quality programming supported by strong branding and marketing,” said Jack Abernethy, CEO of Fox Television Stations. “We are looking forward to signing additional affiliates in the coming weeks.”

Dozens of station including Fox’s UPN affiliates were facing a fall without primetime programming after CBS and Time Warner announced last month that they were merging their two broadcast networks—UPN and The WB, respectively—into one, The CW. The non-Fox stations disenfranchised by the merger now have a choice: The CW or My Network TV.

The CW is promising more conventional network programming, but it is also demanding reverse compensation from would-be affiliates—that is payments.


Fox Television Stations Chairman Roger Ailes thinks My Network TV is clearly the better way. “Independent stations are in need of a solid option for primetime and we believe no other company is providing this service to the market,” he said.

Beyond the telenovelas, Fox has other programming in development.

• Catwalk (Twentieth Television) — A reality show in which contestants compete to become the next supermodel.

• Celebrity Love Island (Granada) — Celebrities and non-celebrities mix it up in a Fantasy Island environment.

• On Scene (Fox News) — More reality. Detailed looks at crime investigations.

• America’s Brainiest (Celador) — This quiz show, based on a hit British program, will find the country’s smartest people.

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