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SHUFFLING OF CHANNELS 29, 49 TO RESULT IN SHIFT OF PROGRAMS

BART SIMPSON, Al Bundy and Arsenio Hall finally will be shifting channels in Buffalo.

The long-awaited ownership changes involving WNYB-TV (Channel 49) and WUTV (Channel 29) have been approved by the Federal Communications Commission.

The deals are expected to be finalized Wednesday in New York City and the stations' transfer is expected to take place by 6 p.m. Thursday.

All Fox Network programs that have been carried by Channel 49 are expected to switch to Channel 29 by this weekend, including the popular "The Simpsons" and "Married . . . With Children." Similarly, Arsenio Hall's talk show may move from Channel 49 to Channel 29 on Thursday. However, it may be carried at a different time. Channel 49 carries Hall at 11 p.m. opposite the local news but the show has received poor ratings there. Channel 29 may want to move it to 10 p.m.

This fall, Buffalo Sabres games also will move over to Channel 29.

Act III Broadcasting, the Norman Lear company that will be Channel 29's new owners, also is expected to carry a light schedule of Buffalo Bison games this summer.

It is unclear what will happen to Channel 29's schedule of New York Yankees games. Combining with Channel 49, Channel 29 would appear to have a full plate of programs that would damn the Yankees.

Frank Gregg, Channel 29 general manager, confirmed he will leave the station once the transfer occurs. Gregg said Willard Stone, who has been the general manager at Channel 49 during the changeover period, will be the temporary general manager of Channel 29.

Gregg also has told his staff that Act III says it doesn't anticipate any job reductions. Both Channel 49 and Channel 29 have experienced job attrition during the uncertain period since the sales were announced.

In the complicated deal, Act III purchased Channel 29 from Citadel Communications for about $46 million and also gave the Buffalo Sabres part ownership of the new Channel 29 in return for selling their Channel 49 to a religious broadcaster, Tri-State Christian Broadcasting. The deal was further complicated and delayed when Channel 4 and Rochester's WROC asked the FCC to deny the Channel 29 sale because Act III also owns a Rochester station, WUHF-TV, whose signal overlaps that of WUTV. Broadcasting Magazine reports that the FCC waived the multiple ownership rule for one year, which means Act III has that long to sell WUHF.

Tri-State is expected to take over Channel 49 on Thursday. Anyone tuning in Sunday who expects to see the Bundys will be in for a shock.

Cindy Abbott will have her final day on Channel 7's "AM/Buffalo" this Friday. The 10-year veteran's firing has provoked hundreds of letters of protest to both General Manager Steve Kimatian and this column. But he has chosen to ignore them.

Originally, Abbott was expected to stay until August. "AM" co-anchor Brian Kahle is expected to work the July ratings period by himself. There is no word on Abbott's successor.

WGR-AM also is planning some changes in mid-July. Doug Young has arrived from WJNO-AM in Palm Beach, Fla., to host a nightly sports talk show starting July 16. It will run from 6 to 9 p.m., but will be abbreviated when the Bisons or Sabres have a night game. Young says he is an addition to the WGR sports staff which also includes Greg Brown, Jeff Morrison and Pete Weber.

Paul Lyle, another Florida talk show host, also will be the host of a new WGR talk show beginning on July 16.

Young and Lyle worked for WGR's new program director, Mike Anthony, two years ago when Anthony was a controversial program director at WIOD-AM in Miami, Fla. Anthony arrived at WGR from NBC Radio.

How controversial was Anthony in Miami? His nickname there was "The Assassin" because of all the changes that were made.

Charles Banta, WGR's general manager, said he is aware of Anthony's reputation and feels it is undeserved.

"I think he will do a very good job for us," said Banta. "He was put in a very difficult position in Miami. (The owners) pulled the financial rug out of the format. He was part of that casualty process."

Banta said no one in WGR's talk show area will be leaving.

Effective Monday, Channel 7 is replacing reruns of "Cheers" at 5:30 p.m. weekdays with reruns of "Facts of Life."

Talk about strange combinations: How about Paul Maguire and the Learning Channel? The former Buffalo Bill is the host of a new 13-part instructional series, "Sports Training Camp," which premieres at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

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