CHANNEL 25 IS NOW AFFILIATED WITH UPN

MARK McGUIRE Staff writer
Section: LIFE & LEISURE,  Page: D6

Date: Wednesday, September 30, 1998

Channel 25 is the new local station, one most people in the area can't get unless they disconnect their cable. But the upstart independent is now an upstart UPN affiliate, and that could be enough to get WVBG on more cable outlets and extend its reach. On Tuesday UPN confirmed it had reached a deal with Channel 25 to let the station carry its programming. Currently viewers can only see UPN on cable on WSBK, Ch. 38, out of Boston.


This means Albany will have affiliates for all seven networks, since the new WMHQ, Ch. 45, which is awaiting FCC approval, will be a Warner Brothers station by the end of the year (the other networks are ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox and Pax TV).


Channel 25 Station Manager Dan F. Viles Jr. said UPN programming will begin on his station on Monday, which coincides with the fall shows' premieres on the network.


``We will start this Monday,'' Viles said. ``When they (UPN) start the five-nights-a-week blowout, we start.''


UPN spokeswoman Patti McTeague said the network is aware that Channel 25 just went on the air last month and that most cable systems have yet to pick up the over-the-air station.


``We know they are going to slowly build,'' she said. ``We know that slowly but surely they will get full carriage on the cable systems.''


The move came somewhat as a surprise after UPN and Pax TV (WYPX, Ch. 55, locally) agreed last month to show each other's prime-time programming in a late-night slot in markets where one or the other doesn't have an affiliate.


The deal does not immediately effect the UPN agreement with Pax TV, which like Channel 25 began broadcasting late in the summer. But it could help get WVBG, which has a strong Big East sports package, a cable agreement.


``We will have top quality programming from 8-10 (p.m.), Monday through Friday,'' Viles said. ``It is harder and harder to duck us because we have sports and the UPN affiliate.''


But Peter M. Taubkin, a vice president for the Albany Division of Time Warner Cable, said ``there are no plans at this time'' to add Channel 25 to its lineup, stating local subscribers can get UPN programming via WSBK.


``It has no impact because we already carry UPN programming,'' Taubkin said.


Meanwhile, Channel 45, bought in June for $23 million by the Sinclair Broadcast Group from public television WMHT, Ch. 17, hopes to be on the air by the end of the year. Sinclair representative Patrick Talamantes said the station will air the full WB broadcasting slate in addition to its own programming, and may or may not change its call letters.


The No. 1 topic of talk radio locally this week is what the fan who caught Mark McGwire's historic 70th home run ball should do with the lucrative souvenir. The consensus seems to be ``cash in.''


Just a thought: sell it to a corporation, with the provision in must be loaned to the Hall of Fame in perpetuity. The fan gets the money, the hall gets the ball, and talk show hosts can move on to something else. Preferrably not Monica Lewinsky.


With all the new faces arriving recently to the Capital Region's airwaves, you may be wondering what I think of the newcomers like Brad Holbrook (WRGB, Ch. 6), Kari Lake (WNYT, Ch. 13) and Jay R. Gach (WGY, 810 AM), not to mention Sue Nigra, new to Channel 6. But before we pronounce judgments, lets give them some time to acclimate themselves to their new jobs.


Then it's open season. Mark McGuire is the Times Union TV/Radio writer. His column generally appears Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Call him at 454-5467 or send e-mail to mmcguire@timesunion.com.