- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Fox adds My TV

News Corp. yesterday announced its plans for a new mininetwork called My Network TV that will supply prime-time programming for the 10 local TV stations the company owns that were left without programming after UPN announced it would close.

According to Associated Press, the core of the new programming lineup will be two serial dramas that will air six days a week with 13-week story lines, similar to the telenovela format that has been a big success on such Spanish-language networks as Univision. The two one-hour shows, called “Desire” and “Secrets,” will air in prime time.

The new network will begin Sept. 5 on stations in major cities, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Dallas, with initial coverage of 24 percent of the United States, News Corp. says. These stations are owned by News Corp.’s Fox Television Group.

Roger Ailes, who built Fox News Channel into the leading all-news cable network, will be in charge of the new operation.

Fox has had experience successfully going up against incumbent broadcasters. Fox News Channel leapfrogged CNN in the all-news category, and the Fox Broadcast Network became a significant player in a field that had been dominated by the three main television networks: CBS, General Electric Co.’s NBC and Walt Disney Co.’s ABC.

Jack Abernethy, head of the Fox Television Station Group, says he expects the new network to be profitable right away.

The 10 Fox stations were left without programming after struggling networks UPN and the WB decided to merge. The two networks announced last month that they would combine their assets into a new network, called CW, which will be a 50-50 venture between CBS Corp., which owns the UPN network, and WB owner Warner Bros. Entertainment.

Shares of News Corp. rose 7 cents to $16.09 in afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

‘Idol’ domination

NBC routed network rivals with its first full week of Winter Olympics competition — but the Turin Games took a back seat to several customary hits in the weekly Nielsen rankings.

Fox’s “American Idol” held its grip on the top two slots. Wednesday’s edition was the week’s top-rated show and Tuesday’s broadcast was No. 2.

Overall, NBC won the week in prime time, averaging 19.4 million viewers, while ABC had 11.4 million and Fox 10.4 million. CBS, the season-to-date champion, fell to fourth place for the week with 10.2 million viewers; Univision had 4.1 million, the WB 3.7 million and UPN 2.6 million. Meanwhile, Telemundo averaged 1.1 million and Pax TV had 440,000.

For the week of Feb. 13 through 19, the top five shows, their networks and viewerships were: “American Idol” (Wednesday), Fox, 28.78 million; “American Idol” (Tuesday), Fox, 26.96 million; “Grey’s Anatomy,” ABC, 24.36 million; “Desperate Housewives,” ABC, 23.41 million; and Winter Olympics (Monday), NBC, 21.07 million.

IPod preview

NBC this week became the first network to premiere a new show via the ITunes Music Store before the program’s broadcast debut, Reuters news agency reports.

The network made its new legal drama “Conviction” available free of charge Tuesday on the online music store. The series is set to air March 3.

As part of a multiplatform introduction, ITunes users can download the hourlong Dick Wolf-produced pilot in its entirety at no cost. The promotion will extend until the show’s March 3 network debut, after which each episode will become available to download for $1.99 the day after it airs.

NBC also will promote the free preview on the show’s TV promos, across NBC Universal Web properties and on ITunes. The network’s “The Office” is the television show most often purchased from Apple’s online store.

“Conviction” focuses on the lives of young assistant district attorneys in New York faced with challenging and emotion-driven cases that test their limited litigation experience. Its ensemble cast includes Stephanie March, Jordan Bridges, J. August Richards, Milena Govich, Eric Balfour, Anson Mount and Julianne Nicholson.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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