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CW Parents Emphasize Support of Network

As The CW prepares for next month's launch of its super-hyped drama "90210," the leaders of parent companies CBS Corp. and Warner Bros. are offering an emphatic vote of confidence in the network.

In a letter to CW employees and affiliates delivered this morning, the executives—Barry Meyer and Bruce Rosenblum of Warner Bros. and Leslie Moonves and Nancy Tellem of CBS—acknowledge that building a network is "a difficult proposition" but state flatly that they "are dedicated to the CW" and that they "stand squarely behind you, and are committed to doing what is necessary to ensure the success of the CW venture."

"We support the network, believe in it, and are committed to its future," the executives add later in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by TelevisionWeek. "All of us must continue to work hard and push everyday to aggressively compete in this marketplace. Our success will be born of focused and sustained effort over the course of the next few years."

The letter also makes it clear that The CW is a part of both CBS's and Warner Bros.' business strategies.

"CBS and Warner Bros., through The CW, are collaborating to create valuable content assets and build a network that benefits all our business partners and our respective corporate entities," the executives wrote.

The letter comes just a few weeks after Ms. Tellem and Mr. Rosenblum made an unannounced visit to a meeting of The CW's current programming department. The pop-in was meant to convey the message that CBS and Warner Bros. were on the same page when it came to the network. The missive seems designed to underscore that message and eliminate any talk that CBS and Warner Bros. might have divergent interests.

In May, the Wall Street Journal reported that one of the partners in The CW might abandon the network next year if ratings didn't improve. Like most of the networks, The CW was hit hard by last year's writers strike and saw its ratings among adults 18-49 drop by about 15% last season.

Despite developing some of the most buzzed-about shows of recent years—"Gossip Girl," "90210," "Aliens in America"—The CW has struggled to get the attention of its core audience of younger viewers. The Sept. 1 return of "Gossip Girl" and the Sept. 2 premiere of "90210" will be critical indicators of how tough the upcoming season will be.

In their letter, the four executives—all of whom sit on The CW's board of directors—went out of their way to point out The CW's accomplishments and to thank staffers for their work.

"We presented Madison Avenue with 'Content Wraps' and "Quickies,'" they wrote, pointing out advertising formats the network introduced. "We upended the American pop culture with the creation of 'Gossip Girl.' Now, The CW has created '90210,' the most anticipated and buzzed-about show of the new television season," the letter states.

"All of this has been supported by the most innovative and talked-about marketing campaigns in recent memory, and along the way we have been embraced by every important constituency from advertisers to affiliates and even the press," the letter said.

The full text of the letter follows:

To Our CW Colleagues:

As summer draws to a close with the network on the eve of the 2008 fall launch, we want to take a moment to thank each and every one of you for all your hard work and dedication.

We recognize that creating any new business is a difficult proposition, and building a new broadcast network is no exception!

As we move forward into the new season, please know that CBS and Warner Bros., are dedicated to The CW. We stand squarely behind you, and are committed to doing what is necessary to ensure the success of The CW venture.

During the last two years all of us have worked very hard to create and build The CW. In that time we have had numerous successes: We presented Madison Avenue with "Content Wraps" and "Quickies." We upended the American pop culture with the creation of "Gossip Girl." Now, The CW has created "90210," the most anticipated and buzzed-about show of the new television season.

All of this has been supported by the most innovative and talked-about marketing campaigns in recent memory, and along the way we have been embraced by every important constituency from advertisers to affiliates and even the press.

CBS and Warner Bros., through The CW, are collaborating to create valuable content assets and build a network that benefits all our business partners and our respective corporate entities.

For those of you who were not in the recent CW current meeting with Nancy and Bruce, please let us state again: We support the network, believe in it, and are committed to its future. All of us must continue to work hard and push every day to aggressively compete in this marketplace. Our success will be born of focused and sustained effort over the course of the next few years.

We thank you again, and please take a moment to appreciate the talents and accomplishments of every individual in every department at The CW. Best of luck to us all in the 2008-09 season!

Sincerely,
Barry Meyer
Leslie Moonves
Bruce Rosenblum
Nancy Tellem

Comments (9)

balls deeeep:

the dreaded vote of confidence

au revoir, cw... you won't be missed.


This is nothing more than a diaper statement, and we all know what diapers do.

The only reason this statement was even made is because Tribune, owners of the flagship CW stations of the North, Midwest, and West, are publicly commenting about the fate of the network and actually planning what to do in 2009.

If Warner Bros. and CBS actually supported the network:

- would they completely abandon Sunday nights and Saturday mornings as they have done this coming season selling the broadcast slots to MRC and 4Kids Entertainment, respectively?

- would they cancel the network's highest-rated series, WWE Friday Night SmackDown!, just to satisfy their need to be a young women's channel?

- would they completely abandon the urban market, the market that stood by the networks even when others scorned them, by cancelling numerous shows like the top-rated Girlfriends and All of Us (and no, repeats of The Wayans Brothers and The Jamie Foxx Show on weekday afternoons doesn't count as committing to the market)?

- would they get rid of two of their strongest properties, Gilmore Girls and Veronica Mars, in the first season of the merger?

- would Warner Bros. actually be relaunching The WB and Kids' WB! as online networks instead of using that energy for The CW?

The 4Kids deal was bad right out of the gate because that just showcased the laziness of Warner Bros. and CBS to the hilt. There could have been numerous properties produced by both that could have ended up on CW Kids. I would have liked CBS to at least develop a Star Trek animated series for today's audiences. Heck, CBS could have made cartoons aimed towards the young girls as well if they wanted to, but they didn't.

Looking at 4Kids' plans, they're cluttering up the lineup with reruns and a few new shows from what they aired on their other, competing block on Fox. The ratings have been dipping for weeks now. Shouldn't that be a sign that perhaps 4Kids wasn't the answer?

The fact that they gave up on Sunday nights proved they're not really confident in doing work themselves. Yes, Sunday nights was their lowest-rated night. That didn't mean they had to just quit altogether and let someone else do the work. They could have made it something better. Perhaps make Sundays a family entertainment night, either by creating a family-friendly sitcom or adventure followed by a weekly movie showcase.

I just thought of that in two seconds, hardly any effort.

And if they feel the first day of the new season is any indication of how the entire season will be, then they'll be sorely disappointed week after week. Of course audiences will be there in the first week. Curiousity factor always lingers in the first couple of weeks. By week three or four, audiences usually determine if they're going to stick around.

One more thing.

In the letter, they claimed that building a new broadcast network is difficult. However, and this is a biggie, both Warner Bros. and CBS have experience in running networks. Hell, CBS ran two at once (UPN and another one which name escapes me at this moment). The folks behind The WB and UPN had a combined 22 years of experience in running those two networks before merging them into The CW. Have they completely forgotten how to market to EVERYBODY? Why are they only targeting the young girls? Surely they want to create an audience rather than abandoning the ones they've already got, and this season, viewership will drop heavily in all areas except the young female demographic. They're only united in the fact that they don't really care how the network is ran.

But the affiliates do. The advertisers do. The viewers do. That's why they're so vocal about the frustrating direction of The CW. If CBS and WB continue to take The CW in that frustrating direction, then they will fail. The affiliates will go. The advertisers will leave. And the viewers, those left anyway, will go elsewhere, like MTV, Disney Channel, ABC Family, and any of the other countless outlets aimed towards them.

The CW promised the best of both worlds but will, in the end (and the end is nigh), prove to be one of the biggest disasters in broadcast television history, and they have nobody to blame but themselves. You almost feel sorry for Warner Bros. and CBS.

Almost.

Q:

AMEN!!!!! I couldn't off said it better myself!

tony almonte:

lesson number 1....never trust anything that Bruce Rosenblum says.

Anna:

Well said Jeff!!

So CW continues to put all its eggs into the baskets of Gossip Girl and now 90210. And the "parents" sit idly & quietly as their spoiled little diva (Ostroff) runs yet another network into the ground. If the CW is to "aggressively compete in the marketplace" than it needs to diversify its programming to serve a diverse audience and not just teen girls. I mean, a restaurant can certainly offer only one dish on its menu, and some are bound to like it, but wouldn't they have a better chance at getting more customers with more variety on the menu?

Hype & buzz mean nothing if people aren't interested in watching -- seriously, how many cookie-cutter shows featuring spoiled, rich teens do we really need (or can we really stand)? At least WB supported unique quality with Buffy, Angel, Gilmore Girls, Veronica Mars, Supernatural, and Smallville.

"Upended the American culture" with Gossip Girl? Hardly. The show has become a gimmick to sell the latest fashions and portrays everything that is a parent's worst nightmare for teens. Despite the hype & buzz and countless millions poured into promotion, it managed only 2.5 million in numbers.

And Friday Wrestling with 4 million was tossed out because **gasp** more MEN were watching? Where is the logic in that?! Who cares WHO watches, as long as they watch! And where is the much-needed promotion for Smallville and Supernatural who go up against the Thurs death slot and consistently deliver the numbers (not to mention the quality)?

Hard to believe the parents are signing off on this direction.

Marc Baker:

RIGHT ON! Preach on the mountain, Jeff! Although if you ask me, Di$ney Channel is just as guilty as the CW by targeting teen girls by shoving 'Hanna Montana' down our throats just like the CW is doing with 'Gossip Girl'. (God forbid they should air something that appeals to boys, adults, or *gasp* cartoon fans) You know the network is in trouble when E! News, that 'paragon of virtue for young sluts, uh i mean girls', is hyping your new fall lineup. Especially the new '90210' revamp that we didn't ask for! The CW is destine for failure, and Ostroff needs to go ASAP!

Lord Dolmus:

Shut the hell up Jeff Harris. All you do is whine and bitch about TV. You're probably Anna and Marc Baker anyway.

Thurston Last:

I think Jeff's on point though, actually contributing to the dialogue. I've checked out his site now and then on the "Left Coast" for a while, and while I don't agree with him on everything, I admire his gusto. While I don't share his rage, I do have concerns about what exactly prompted this need to publicly support The CW, especially in the light of Tribune's recent actions and the sudden need of them to avoid critics prescreening 90201.

In my business, when you don't want critics to see a finished product, it's either a case of jitters (and the way The CW's preening the series like it's the second coming or something, I doubt it), or they know the critics will lay into the series like hyenas on a gazelle. There is very cautious optimism over at The CW, and everybody is aware that the end may be in sight.

lilkunta:

Jeff YOU ARE SO RIGHT ! Amen. Lord Dolmus you need to shutup. All that Jeff wrote is very true & founded.

CW THINKS it is the destination for teens & young ladies, yet its crap teen sex shows get just 2.5mill viewers.

I cant wait until CW folds. There shouldnt have ever been a crappy white network.

Is it possible to bring back UPN & bring back Half&Half,Girlfriends, Game, All of US?

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