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Disney executive Dean Valentine named UPN network president

September 17, 1997 GMT

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Walt Disney Television president Dean Valentine was named president and chief executive officer of television’s fledgling United Paramount Network on Tuesday.

Valentine succeeds Lucie Salhany, who announced her intention to resign earlier this year to join the network’s operating committee.

Valentine spent a decade at Disney, where he also was president of Walt Disney Television Animation, and was involved in the production of series such as ``Home Improvement″ and ``Ellen.″

``More than anything else, Dean’s goal is to make UPN a great place for writers and producers,″ said Kerry McCluggage, chairman of the Paramount Television Group and a committee member.

UPN airs six hours of prime time programming on three nights, with a fourth night to be added in April.

Viacom Inc., Paramount’s parent company, is a partner in the network with Chris-Craft Industries Inc. Salhany will remain an adviser to the network as a consultant to BHC Communications Inc., a subsidiary of Christ-Craft.

Valentine, faces the challenge of expanding UPN in a crowded and competitive arena.

Recently, UPN was hit by an affiliate defection. TV stations in five cities operated by the Sinclair Broadcast Group announced they will switch affiliations in January from UPN to the rival WB network.

The deal seemed to indicate a shift in the balance of power between the two fledgling networks, with the WB expanding its reach from 82 percent to 87 percent of the nation’s households.

But UPN, which Tuesday announced the addition of WJNW-TV in Madison, Wis., to its affiliate base, said it reaches more than 95 percent of viewing households with 181 affiliates.

UPN consistently edges WB in the ratings, although both draw very small audiences by comparison with the established networks.