Scripps pulls plug on The CW in seven markets

Owner of rival Ion couldn’t agree on new deal with Nexstar-owned network

[Editor’s Note: This post was updated April 25.]

Seven Scripps stations currently affiliated with The CW will not be in September as the broadcaster and the network couldn’t agree on terms to renew their deal, as first reported by The Desk Friday.

Of the seven, two are in major markets – Miami’s WSFL and Detroit’s WMYD, who became a CW affiliate only a year ago after Nexstar – who owns 75 percent of the network, was disaffiliated by crosstown rival WADL after two months as the station was in the process of being acquired by Nexstar affiliate Mission Broadcasting from owner Kevin Adell. The FCC recently fined both Mission and Nexstar for their business relationship over WPIX New York, a decision that drew criticism from broadcasting observers.

The other five are KATC Lafayette, La.; KWBA Tuscon, Ariz.; KSBY Santa Barbara, Calif.; KZTV Corpus Christi, Tex.; and WGNT Norfolk-Portsmouth, Va. Of these five, only WGNT and KWBA are primary affiliates and not on a station’s subchannel. Nexstar has lined up replacements in Norfolk and Lafayette, where they each own a station.

“This is an opportunity for us to bring Scripps’ excellent local and national programming – entertainment from our networks, news from local stations and Scripps News and, in some markets, local sports rights – to even more audiences across the country,” a spokesperson for Scripps said that it was “still in the process of determining exactly what the new programming will look like in each affected market.”

Nexstar also reacted: “We have interest from other station groups in the five remaining markets and expect to make announcements about those affiliations soon. We are prepared for this transition and confident that The CW will continue to reach 100% of US television households without interruption.”

Since Nexstar acquired 75 percent of The CW from Paramount Global and Warner Bros. Discovery, The CW had to work to shore up its linear TV affiliate count after eight stations owned by Paramount parent CBS dropped the network after their ownership stake was reduced. One of those stations was Detroit’s WKBD, who dropped The CW last September 1.

The relationship between the two rival broadcasters deteriorated after Scripps’ Phoenix duopoly moved the CW affiliation from KASW to a digital subchannel of ABC affiliate KNXV (15.2, home to Antenna TV) to make room for Arizona Coyotes hockey games. Nexstar later moved The CW to Londen Broadcasting’s KAZT, which simultaneously struck a shared services agreement with the station.

Last week, the Coyotes were sold to Utah Jazz owners Ryan and Ashley Smith and announced their move to Salt Lake City, leaving KASW without any local sports. However, Scripps is maintaining television rights to the team and plans to air games on Ion affiliate KUPX (Scripps owns Ion) so the Arizona/Utah franchise could continue on KASW despite the NHL team departing the Phoenix area (and that’s exactly what’s going to happen as a deal was made Wednesday to continue broadcasting games over KASW.)

Nexstar finding replacement affiliates may be easier said than done in the four remaining markets – especially in Miami and Detroit, where The CW was on three stations in a year. Sunbeam’s WSVN (as a subchannel) could be an option in Miami as the company already owns a CW station in Boston, but the CW’s future is murkier in Detroit given everything that’s going on.


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