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Coupling’ to air on UPN network

Amanda Michaels | Thursday, September 25, 2003

Mirroring the intemperate love lives of the singles it features, “Coupling” did some partner-swapping of its own Wednesday, when UPN-affiliate WSBT-DT agreed to air the controversial show rejected just days ago by WNDU-TV.

WSBT-DT, a second, digital channel connected with CBS-affiliate WSBT, picked up the sitcom and will air it on Thursday nights at 10 p.m. The fledgling station, founded in September, agreed to air the program in part to help fill the 22 hours of open airtime around the two hours provided by UPN, said Bob Johnson, the station’s operations and programming director.

“‘Coupling’ sounded like a show compatible with the station’s younger and edgier tone, so we thought it was a good fit,” Johnson said. “But [the acquisition] probably would not have happened if we didn’t have the second channel to program.”

Johnson also said that the 10 p.m. time slot, amended from NBC’s 8:30 p.m. airing, puts the show “out of family hour,” when it will suit an older, more appropriate demographic.

WBST-DT received the rights to air the show after entering into direct negotiations with NBC, which previously released a statement addressing the controversy that said, “The show was reviewed by NBC Standards and Practices and was considered appropriate for broadcast on the network. It’s unfortunate that not everyone will have the opportunity to make their own viewing decisions.”

Today, the network added, “We’re thrilled that the viewers will have the opportunity to see ‘Coupling.'”

Karl Kirbie, director of programming at WNDU, said the station was not surprised by WSBT-DT’s acquisition.

“We did know that NBC would offer [“Coupling”] to other stations in town … and the show is more UPN’s demographic,” said Kirbie. “We still feel strongly that it does not belong on WNDU.”