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Monday, 23 April, 2001, 12:13 GMT 13:13 UK
Buffy swoops onto new network
Sarah Michelle Gellar
Buffy made its debut on WB in 1997
Cult television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer is to switch networks in the US for its next series.

The programme has spent the last five years on the Warner Brothers network, The WB, but will switch to UPN, a rival youth-orientated network.

The programme will be sold for a reported $2.3m an episode
The New York Times reports that UPN will pay Fox TV, which makes the programme, about $2.3m (1.6m) per episode, compared to the $1.8m (1.2m) offered by the WB to keep the show.

The defection is thought to be the first time in modern TV history that a hit series has jumped networks solely on financial grounds.

UPN has ordered 44 episodes of Buffy under the new agreement.

'Great partnership'

"Creatively, we've had a great partnership with the WB on Buffy the Vampire Slayer over the past five years, and we are grateful for their contributions in making the show a hit," Fox Television President Dana Walden said in a statement.

I've been dumped by my fat old ex and Prince Charming has come and swept me off my feet

Joss Whedon
"Unfortunately, the WB did not share our vision or passion for the show's future and, quite simply, UPN did."

Buffy, starring Sarah Michelle Gellar, was based on an averagely-successful film but has gone on to become one of the most popular teen programmes in the US.

Writer and Buffy creator Joss Whedon said: "I've been dumped by my fat old ex and Prince Charming has come and swept me off my feet.

"I'm mostly very excited because I now have a network that cares about my show as opposed to one that insults it."

First hits

The cult show debuted in 1997 and was one of the first hits on WB, part of the AOL and Time Warner group.

UPN currently broadcasts programmes such as Star Trek Voyager and a derivative of American football, XFL.

Buffy: The third most watched programme on WB
Buffy is currently WB's third most watched programme.

UPN will receive a second major boost when it, as predicted, announces it has the rights to broadcast the new Star Trek series, thought to be called Enterprise.

A statement from WB said: "We gave it [Buffy] our strongest promotional and publicity efforts, established it as a hit and moved it to Tuesday with Dawson's Creek only to make it the company's promotional focus once again."

It added that the WB "bought a spin off show, Angel, and scheduled it exactly where Mr Whedon wanted it scheduled, promoted that night heavily, and offered to buy two more years of both shows... and finally offered the highest license fee in our history to renew the program".

"We're sorry that this didn't demonstrate to Mr Whedon our utmost respect and commitment to the show," it said.

There is also speculation that the spin off programme Angel could also leave WB.

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