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CW deletes MRC Sunday block

'Shows simply not working,' so repeats of different older shows take place

After months of rock-bottom ratings, the CW has decided to yank its entire Sunday night lineup programmed by Media Rights Capital.

The shows — including reality series "In Harm's Way" and dramas "Valentine" and "Easy Money" — will be replaced by repeats and second-run theatricals starting this weekend.

CW COO John Maatta announced the decision in a letter sent to network affiliates that stated, "The MRC shows are simply not working."

"Our plan is to program Sunday with distinctive, first-rate programming that can quickly stabilize the night," Maatta wrote. "We will work with you to promote and market this new night with a lineup that will include quality scripted series and contemporary theatrical titles."

The CW will launch a new block including repeats of "Everybody Hates Chris" and "The Game," launching with Season 1 of both shows; "The Drew Carey Show," beginning with Season 2; "Jericho," starting with the first season; and then a movie. The CW plans to keep that lineup for the remainder of the season.

"It's not surprising given it was not very successful and the economics made it pretty difficult for them to continue," said Bill Carroll, director of programming at Katz Television Group. "Part of the challenge with the lineup was nobody knew what it was on a very competitive night of the week. Established product has greater potential to draw an audience."

An MRC spokesperson said MRC was taken by surprise by Maatta's letter and that execs are talking with the CW over how to address the Sunday block's ailing performance.

"MRC is still in negotiations with the CW on all points of their deal," she said. "Timing, programming, payments, they're still negotiating every part of the point of the deal. All of the episodes could still air."

The CW figured renting its low-rated Sunday evening to independent studio MRC this fall would make better financial sense than trying to launch and market original programming in the extremely competitive evening. But in recent weeks, the block has averaged about 700,000 viewers and a 0.2 rating among adults 18-49, making it the lowest-rated programming lineup on the top-five broadcast networks. The MRC performances dragged down the network's overall performance average, discouraged audience flow and frustrated affiliates. (partialdiff)