NEW YORK – News Corp. announced Wednesday it would launch a new mini-network called My Network TV that will supply prime-time shows for the 10 local TV stations the company owns that were left without programming after UPN announced that it would close.
The new lineup will be centered around two serial dramas that will air six days a week with 13-week story lines, similar to the soap opera-esque "telenovela" format that has been a big success on Spanish-language networks like Univision.
The two shows, called "Desire" and "Secrets," will be one hour each, airing Monday through Saturday. Other daily, serialized shows are also in the works, including a quiz show, a reality show called "Celebrity Love Island" and a supermodel search show.
Putting daily, serialized dramas on the air in prime time is highly unusual. Fox executives said the two new shows had been in the works for several months, before the announcement about UPN shutting down was made.
The new lineup will launch on Sept. 5 on stations in major cities including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Dallas with initial coverage of 24 percent of the United States, News Corp. said. Executives said they hoped to sign up other affiliates as well.
The 10 stations that will initially carry the new shows are owned by News Corp.'s Fox television station group, which has a total of 35 stations in 26 cities, many of which are affiliated with News Corp.'s main broadcast network, Fox. News Corp., whose media assets span the globe, is controlled by the Australian-born media baron Rupert Murdoch.
The 10 stations were left without access to prime-time programming when UPN, a struggling network owned by CBS Corp., announced last month that it would close down.
CBS is using shows from UPN to launch another new broadcast network together with Time Warner Inc.'s Warner Bros., which decided to shut down its own network The WB. Both UPN and WB had struggled for years.
Roger Ailes, the head of Fox's television station group, will be in charge of the new My Network TV operation. Ailes, known as a doggedly determined programming executive, built Fox News Channel into a powerhouse, leapfrogging CNN in the all-news category.
News Corp. has had other experience going up against incumbent networks in the past, taking on CBS, Walt Disney Co.'s ABC and General Electric Co.'s NBC with its Fox network.
"In life, I've learned that losing is highly overrated as a learning experience," Ailes told a group of reporters at a news conference in New York.
Jack Abernethy, the head of the Fox Television Station Group, said he expected the new network to be profitable right away.
The new Fox-owned mini-network will be going up against The CW, the joint venture network being formed by CBS Corp. and Warner Bros. out of the assets of UPN and WB. That network will launch initially on 16 stations owned by Tribune Co., which had been a minority owner of WB, as well as 11 former UPN stations.
News Corp. is the parent company of FOXNews.com.