Tuesday, June 05, 2001

Warner adds 2 channels, not UPN

        Good news and bad news: Time Warner is adding two new channels to the standard level. The bad news: UPN isn't one of them.

        Instead, Time Warner will add Oprah Winfrey's Oxygen channel and ABC's Soap Net.

        “It's very clear to us that customers want more women and family programming,” says Jennifer Mooney, Time Warner vice president.

        With all due respect, I bet if you stopped 20 people on Fountain Square today that many would say they want UPN on cable — and few if any would request Soap Net or Oxygen.

        On July 1, Soap Net arrives on Channel 67, and Oxygen inhales Channel 68.

        At the same time, the Disney Channel will move to Standard service (Channel 80), as Time Warner dissolves the old Family tier service. Warner moved Golf and TV Food from Family to Standard last year, and packaged Encore with the premium service multiplex channels.

        Contrary to Time Warner's newspaper advertisements, the $1.99 fee for the Family service won't “be eliminated.” More than 89,000 standard service customers — or 27 percent of Time Warner's 330,000 subscribers — will be charged an additional $1.99 for the Disney Channel in July, she says. The other customers, including the 90,000 with the top-level digital service, will not pay extra, she says.

        The new channels, and digital service, should be available next month in Hamilton, where upgrading the old TCI system should be completed late this month.

        The additional channels won't be available in Middletown, Trenton and Franklin until improvements are finished in December.

        Ms. McDonald also says Time Warner executives continue to talk to UPN officials about adding the network — by means other than picking up low-power WBQC-TV (Channel 25), Cincinnati's UPN affiliate.

        UPN's fall lineup includes Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Roswell (from WB), WWF Smackdown,the new Star Trek Enterprise drama and the African-American Monday sitcoms (Girlfriends, The Parkers). Many Buffy, Roswell and Star Trek fans have been sending letters to Time Warner asking them to get UPN.

        “We are working aggressively on it,” Ms. McDonald promises. Stay tuned.

        Enquirering mind: Enquirering minds want to know: Will Tim Daly's The Fugitive series finale cliffhanger from May 25 ever be resolved?

        Probably not.

        CBS Television President Les Moonves says The Fugitive producers were told in early March, before shooting the finale, that the series would not be renewed. Yet producers went ahead with a cliffhanger for the two-hour finale.

        My guess is that producers hope enough people complain for the network to approve a TV movie wrapping up loose ends, as NBC did for Homicide: Life on the Streets two years ago. My guess also is that Mr. Moonves won't cave, and that viewers will never see a resolution.

        Old news: Despite boasts about around-the-clock news staffing, WLW-AM's (700) weekend news hasn't been very new. At 10 a.m. Sunday, the top story was the Fountain Square peace march that started at noon the previous day, which had been reported throughout Saturday.

        The Sunday morning newscasts also reported the Mount Adams' protesters' arrests on Saturday — but not the overnight vigil outside the Hamilton County Justic Center. That was a big story on “the Big One” Monday morning. Why wasn't it a big story Sunday morning?

        On Memorial Day weekend, the top story at 10 a.m. Sunday was James Brown's brief appearance opening Taste of Cincinnati at noon Saturday, another story that was 22 hours old. The identical report was the top story at 2 p.m. Saturday, and repeated Saturday night. Shouldn't the big story Sunday morning have been how business was the first day at Taste?

        Kiese-watching: Were you fooled by Fox's promotion of “the all new Freakylinks” last week? Most Fox viewers probably knew Freakylinks was canceled in October after two telecasts. The only thing new was Fox's opportunity to collect some advertising revenues from a show it dumped seven months ago.

        Around the dial: Frontline explains California's energy crisis in a program called “Blackout” (10 p.m. today, Channels 16, 54).

        Cincinnati native Tom Hoobler, 58, a 1960 St. Xavier High School graduate and former Summit Country Day school teacher, returns to the hot seat on Who Wants to be a Millionaire (8 p.m. today, Channels 9, 2).

        TV notes: Law & Order reruns from the past two seasons start on TNT at 8 p.m. Tuesday. Reruns from the first eight season will move to TNT next year after they complete their run on A&E, where they air at 7 p.m. weekdays.

        E-mail jkiesewetter@enquirer.com. Past columns at Enquirer.com/columns/kiese


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