More U for you

Weigel Broadcasting’s WCIU-TV announced yet another expansion of its programming options Tuesday with the planned December launch of U Too on WCUU-CA (analog low-power Channel 48) and WCIU-DT digital channel 26.5 and 26.6.

Many were tipped when the call letters of WMEU-CA were changed to the WCUU calls last week.

U Too is part of a duopoly – of sorts. Weigel plans to air some current first-run and off- network syndicated programming on the new channel, while continuing to do so on 26.1 and air “programming from independent producers that fit our brand as well as another opportunity to reach a new audience for existing and future clients”, according to Weigel chief executive Neal Sabin. (when this was teased earlier today, yours truly threw out a wild guess it would be a Spanish-language channel. I’m not always right, ya know?…)

Weiglel officials also plan to sell creatively between the two U brands, much in the same way MeTV and MeToo have successfully done.

To make room, Weigel is dropping FBT, the brokered ethnic programming channel on 26.6. Until March 2008, It was known as WFBT on low powered channel 48 (and before 2005 on low-powered channel 23), which was moved to the 26.6 frequency to make room for MeToo, a spin-off of classic TV channel MeTV, which was launched on WWME-TV in 2005 (replacing WFBT on channel 23) and now resides on WCIU’s digital channel 26.2.

Weigel officials plan to find new homes for the producers who had fare on FBT.

U Too meanwhile, will be made available on Comcast, WOW, and RCN cable systems, but not DirectTV or Dish Network, at least for now.

WCIU began life as the market’s first UHF station in 1964, and was mostly known for ethnic programming, The Stock Market Observer, where Soul Train got its start, and other local programs. In 1995, it became a general-market independent station, replacing the ultra low-rated WGBO-TV in that role after Univision (which had a part-time affiliation with WCIU) purchased the former Grant Broadcasting station. Unlike WGBO however, WCIU has been a ratings success.

No word yet on a programming schedule for U Too.